Bandit has travel in his blood.
The 2 ½ -year-old tabby cat spent the first weeks of his life on a pontoon boat. And he loves roaming the neighborhood around the home of his owners, the Sanborn family of Dearborn, Mich.
Bandit recently took his biggest trip yet — to Tampa, Fla., more than 1,100 miles away.
The cat had been missing for about two months when Judy Sanborn received a shocking call in mid-December. It was BluePearl specialty and emergency pet hospital in Tampa, with news that a local woman had found Bandit as a stray and dropped him off there. The woman told the clinic the cat followed her home.
BluePearl staff connected Bandit to the Sanborns by scanning his microchip.
How he made the interstate trip remains a mystery.
Sanborn theorizes that he could have hitched a ride in a moving van. Or, maybe someone in Michigan found him, took him in and kept him indoors, and then brought him along on a trip to Florida.
No matter how it happened, it was an unusual journey, said Jose Calderon, an emergency veterinary technician manager at BluePearl.
“Honestly, in my 30 years of my career, I have not” seen an animal come from so far away, he said. “A block over, a street over, or maybe even [from] Orlando, which is an hour away from us. This is the farthest away I’ve seen.”
Clinic staff have been caring for Bandit. He also goes by Daisy or Daisy Duck (or “Mr. Daisy Duck,” as Calderon calls him), the name the Sanborns gave him as a kitten when they mistakenly thought he was a girl.
“[He’s] a sweetheart of a cat,” Calderon said.
Sanborn launched an online fundraiser in an effort to raise $500 to fly Bandit back to Michigan in cargo.
But Bandit will now make the trip in coach (or better). Thanks to a connection through BluePearl and a Florida pet-sitting company, a woman whose husband is a pilot offered to fly with him home to Michigan.
Sanborn joked that she hopes Bandit isn’t disappointed to go from balmy Florida weather to Michigan winter.
Bandit and his litter mates were born on Sanborn’s sister’s pontoon boat. They were discovered when a tarp was pulled away after the boat came out of winter storage.
Bandit has always been an indoor-outdoor cat, periodically leaving the Sanborns’ house to hunt for the chipmunks and mice he lovingly brings back to their door.
Sanborn hasn’t decided whether she’s going to try to keep Bandit indoors more often. She does, however, plan to make him collars embroidered with her phone number.
“He’s a little traveler,” she said.