Romeo the cat has been missing for over a year. He was known to wander around the town of Kennebunkport, but last Fall he vanished. Romeo's owner, George Lichte, feared the worst.
"We were looking for this cat constantly," he said. But after a year he had a hard time even thinking about the cat. "I really blocked him out of my memory. I shut down, I couldn't think about the cat."
The town had recently experienced a sudden increase in the coyote population around the time that Romeo went missing, so even though it pained them to say it, the Lichte family started to believe that Romeo wouldn't come home.
It took the family a year to even consider moving on and bringing a new cat into their family, but just as they started to think about it they received a phone call from a vet 120 miles away. Their cat had turned up, and he had experienced quite the year...
Romeo had made it 120 miles, all the way to a Unity College where a student found him sleeping on a picnic table. Kevin Taft said, "I heard a meow and all the sudden I looked down and he was sitting in my lap, curled up sleeping. He was really, really friendly."
He knew that a cat this friendly must have a family, so he brought Romeo to the vet in Skowhegan to check for a microchip. The vet was able to get Lichte's information from the chip and found out that he had traveled a long, long way.
“It was just amazing,” Lichte said. “He was dead. I closed down the file at the vet.” It felt like Romeo had been resurrected. They drove the two hours to go find his cat and he couldn't believe that it was him. "It was Romeo, it was absolutely Romeo."
Romeo had always been really friendly and smart, and would often travel around town. He had become a bit of a town celebrity, with a tag on that had his name and a note to "leave me outside." But even though he was known to wander, Lichte doesn't believe that his cat walked the 120 miles.
That's when they learned the truth...
“It’s also a question of how did he get there? It’s one thing for it to show up at the Bush’s house through the woods,” Lichte said. “How [did he] get across the Saco River, the Androscoggin River, the Kennebec? How did he get that far?”
He's referring to former President George H.W. Bush, who lives right near the Lichte family. So it's possible that Romeo spent quite a bit of time hanging out with the former president. As for his year long adventure, Lichte believed that Romeo got into a truck bed and was driven out of town by mistake.
He suspects that Romeo didn't get returned right away because someone probably kept him for themselves, but he didn't think he would ever find out the truth. "I don’t know where he has been. I don’t know what he’s been through," Lichte said.
What Lichte didn't know was that one woman could clear up the whole thing for him. Whisper Waite, a student at Unity College had been looking for her lost cat, Neptune, when a friend sent her the news. The cat she had been taking care of for a year was none other than the missing Romeo.
She found Lichte on Facebook to apologize to him, “I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I just cannot let this guy think this cat has been lost in the wilderness,’” Waite said. “I also apologized for inadvertently kidnapping his cat.”
Apparently Lichte's suspicions about how his cat ended up that far away were very accurate. Waite had been attending a wedding in Kennebunkport, when Romeo turned up. The hotel staff were getting frustrated with him and said they would send him to the shelter if his owner's didn't turn up soon. Waite offered to take the cat with her, and because it didn't have a collar when she found him she never suspected he had a home.
“The cat was extremely attached to me and vice versa,” Waite said. “Everyone loved this cat because he was just an awesome cat.”
Romeo, now called Neptune by his temporary owner, was still allowed to wander around outside the college. That's how Taft came across him and how Romeo was able to be brought back home. Waite is going to head back down to Kennebunkport so she can say goodbye to him properly, but she is happy to know that he is back where he belongs.
And even though Romeo has become an internet sensation, according to his owner "Romeo is just out being Romeo."