Willow, the prodigal cat: Where we suspect she spent her five lost years

Meet Willow, a six-year-old calico who has gained five years, one and a half pounds and surprisingly little gray hair since she was lost from her Broomfield home half a decade ago, somehow not eaten by coyotes and discovered Wednesday in the Big Apple. To be clear, that's roughly 1,800 miles from her surprised human family. Although Willow doesn't get lost and tell, the Latest Word has a hunch about the destinations behind the cat's extended vacation.

We're picturing the plot of Homeward Bound, minus the timely and miraculous return and the sequel where the animals somehow get lost a second time.

5. Jungle Island Although Denver, much closer to Willow's origins, is also home to a zoo, ours doesn't come with the liger that this Miami theme park boasts. The cross between a male lion and a tigress is likely the world's most popular large cat, as well as being a mangled Napoleon Dynamite joke and a potential love interest for Willow. Jungle Island, in particular, hosts a male named Hercules, the world's largest non-obese liger. At more than 914 pounds, there's a lot for Willow to love.

4. World's Largest Ball(s) of Twine Puzzlingly, this attraction comes with four categories, and because Willow is clearly a brave adventurer, our guess is that she visited all of the entries. The largest ball of twine made by a community (what a bonding experience) can be found in Cawker City, Kansas, while the largest made by one man lives in Darwin, Minnesota. Depending on her preference, Willow might also have visited the world's largest ball of plastic twine (Branson, Missouri) and the heaviest ball (Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin). Because these towns all lack equally in the fascination department, Willow moved on quickly.

3. The Sphinx Willow learned early on that she has nothing to fear but curiosity itself. After a trying time in the Midwest and north United States and a few close hairball scares, the bold feline made her way to the Giza Plateau, having little or no money in her purse. There, she bought a canteen, adopted a fake identity and spent months devoting her undergraduate studies to the half-human, half-lion creature. It was at this point that she realized that (A) A degree in Egyptology is only helpful in The Mummy and (B) she was still a cat.

2. Muncie, Indiana This little-known city comes with a little-known fact: It's home to about 70,000 people and one enormous cat. Garfield, the star of what was once the world's most widely syndicated comic strip, is also an idol of Willow, who likes her celebrities round, orange and lethargic. Because the lasagna connoisseur is too lazy to come to her, Willow opted to take a boat down the Nile, a flight out of Egypt and a series of buses from there. (Willow can't read maps, so a good deal of her time away was spent on poor travel decisions.)

1. Las Vegas It turns out the United States is home to the world's largest cat population, and about sixty of the country's 85 million cats are estimated to be feral street cats. What better way to make friends in the right places than to hit the Strip in Sin City? During her time in the City of Lights, Willow learned the city's most important motto: "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Unfortunately, she applied it to her entire trip.

More from our Lists & Weirdness archive: "Willow, lost Colorado cat found 5 years later in New York City: Next meme superstar?"

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kelsey Whipple
Contact: Kelsey Whipple