Willow’s family trip took a seriously scary turn. Find out how she made it home.

By Hilary Braaksma
February 02, 2021
Advertisement

This cat reunification story checks almost all the boxes for a hit movie: A dramatic theft? Check. Desperate search? Yep. A psychic playing a key role? Uh-huh.

Willow, the 16-year-old calico cat, has finally made it home after a Jan. 7 car theft that took place while she was inside the vehicle. Willow's owner, Washington D.C. resident Jennifer Carl, was returning from visiting her mother in New Jersey when the cat and her rental car were stolen outside a Harrison gas station.

Willow the calico cat shown with her owner Jennifer Carl
Credit: courtesy Jennifer Carl Facebook

Carl told local reporters she left her rented Jeep SUV running outside of the Speedway convenience store with Willow inside in a pink carrier. When Carl exited the gas station, she discovered the vehicle had been stolen with Willow still inside. She uttered a scream, according to The Washington Post.

The senior cat's owner said she feared for her pet's safety, and she made a public plea for anybody with information to come forward.

"I don't care about the car, I don't care about the theft," Carl told NBC New York. "If there's a way to just anonymously surrender her, please bring her to the local shelter."

Days passed, and no information about Willow turned up—but Carl didn't give up hope. She posted on social media frequently, heeding the advice of pet finder Nancy Mello, who she hired to help bring Willow home. According to the Post, Mello is also known as a psychic or medium and has "found out that I could read animals," she told the newspaper.

Police soon located Carl's belongings, which had been abandoned in a yard. But Willow was still missing.

Mello told the Post that she'd "connected with Willow," and knew that the cat was alive. "She said she was terrified. I saw her in someone's house."

Mello said she urged Willow to get outside to where Carl would eventually find her.

Carl was soon out searching with a group of volunteers in Newark, N.J., a week after the car was stolen. That's when she finally found her precious Willow.

"She kind of had her tail up and was looking around and I could tell that she could hear me and was looking for me but was still really confused by all the other people," Carl said. "And so I just sat out there with the trap and we got her some salmon, which is her favorite."

After being reunited, a volunteer drove Carl and Willow home to start recuperating. Carl said her large, 19-pound cat has lost a few pounds after being on her own for a week—but she is still healthy and doing well.

Willow's owner plans to microchip her immediately to help prevent any similar situations in the future. Carl also thanked the volunteers who helped her locate Willow. She says she plans to use the reward money she raised as a donation to the group, which runs a local trap, neuter, release program.