By Joseph J. Kolb
ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - An Albuquerque cat owner can sleep easier now that the kitten that went missing last month will be home for the holidays, despite a mysterious 2,300-mile side trip to Maine.
Patsy Murphy, who runs an animal refuge center in Westbrook, Maine, said the kitten, named Spice, was brought to her shelter on Nov. 11 by a man who found the feline in a duffel bag while unloading furniture at a local Catholic charity.
"This is a very odd story, we wish she could tell us what happened," Murphy said of the kitten, which was found inside the bag with food and kitty litter.
Murphy said Maine resident Bob Watterson brought the kitten home on Nov. 5, and cared for it for six days before he turned it over to the animal refuge, which found a microchip in the cat that could identify it.
Murphy was shocked when the cat was traced back to New Mexico, and it remained unknown exactly how the cat made its way to Maine.
"We immediately contacted the owner to begin working on returning her the kitten," Murphy said, adding that a Maine businessman offered to pay the cat's transportation cost home.
She said the cat would be sent home after it is treated for a respiratory infection, likely in about a week's time.
"I'm thankful the kitten is going home to her owner and how so many people pulled together to make this happen," Watterson said.
(Reporting by Joseph J. Kolb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)