Michigan is so cold right now that cats are moving to Florida

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.

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.

How he made the interstate trip remains a mystery.

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.