CHICAGO, April 17, 2010 — -- Charles the Cat has always craved adventure.
"He loved to ride in the car," says his owner Robin Alex. "I took him on all my vacations."
But eight months ago, this tabby feline from Albuquerque, N.M., put his nine lives to the test. After Alex went out of town to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and left him with a friend, Charles vanished.
"I was crushed," Alex says. "I was so upset because I was in New Orleans, so there was nothing I could do."
Summer ended, autumn passed, and winter came and went with no sign of Charles.
But earlier this week, he was found by animal control officials in Chicago. That's right, Chicago. Somehow, Charles had managed to travel 1,300 miles from Albuquerque to the Windy City.
Officials said if he walked the whole way, his paws don't show it.
"He's in good condition," said Cherie Travis, executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control. "He's got a little bit of a cold, a little bit of an upper respiratory infection, but otherwise he's in great condition."
Officials found an ID tracking microchip embedded in Charles' back and contacted Alex. She didn't have the money for a plane ticket and feared Charles might be euthanized in Chicago, but good Samaritan Lucien Sims, a fellow cat owner from New Mexico, stepped in and agreed to arrange a flight as she was flying back home to Albuquerque from Chicago.
Now, Charles is headed home this weekend. He is scheduled to arrive late Sunday.
"I've moved around a lot," Alex said. "It seems kind of destined that my cat would be a traveling cat."
But the mystery remains. Exactly where he's been and how he got there, nobody knows.
And Charles isn't talking.
ABC Albuquerque, N.M., baffiliate KOAT and AP contributed to this report.