(CNN)A black cat disappeared from Portland for five years, winding up 1,200 miles away. Only he knows the whole story of his mysterious journey, but here's what we DO know.
A cat missing for five years was found 1,200 miles away. He was just reunited with his owner
Viktor Usov had wondered about his cat for five years. He thought the worst had happened -- then he got a call from New Mexico.
The person on the other end of the call was from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and told Usov they had found a 6-year-old, long-haired black cat they believed belonged to him. "No way," the Oregon resident said. "That can't be my cat. That must be a malfunctioning system."
Santa Fe Animal Services had found the cat wandering the streets without a collar. They brought him to the animal shelter, where he was scanned for a microchip, public relations officer Murad Kirdar told CNN on Monday.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and it is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. Microchips can store an identification number for the pet and contact information for the owner.
When the shelter scanned Sasha, it led them to Usov. He thought it had to be a mistake. He wondered how his cat could have traveled from Portland to Santa Fe. "I want to think he was on a great American adventure," Usov said.
The animal shelter told him that this cat loves belly rubs and all other animals, and Usov knew it really could be his cat. They exchanged pictures of Sasha when he was a kitten and what he looks like now. It was the same cat.
Usov is in medical school and didn't think it would be possible for him to go pick up Sasha. The animal shelter stepped in to help.
Sasha and Usov were finally reunited Tuesday after American Airlines flew Sasha and Kirdar to Portland.
"When we heard Sasha had been found so far from home, after so many years away from his family, we were honored to be in a position to get him back (there)," American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing told CNN on Monday. "We're glad to have provided a happy ending to Sasha's long journey."
Usov had adopted Sasha from the humane society around six years ago. He thought he was the rattiest looking cat in the bunch, but the two had a connection.
"He looked really disheveled, and he looked really sickly," Usov told CNN on Tuesday. "But something about him just really intrigued me, and we connected on a really bizarre level. I said, 'Yep, he's the one!'"
Usov took Sasha home, and the cat would follow him around everywhere. Anytime Usov took his dog on a walk, Sasha would follow behind. Sasha was the friendliest cat Usov had ever known.
"He would even greet us at the door with the dog," Usov said. "He was very adventurous and loved the outdoors. He would go outdoors whenever he wanted. One night he just didn't come back."
Usov thought his cat was gone for good.
Now that the two are reunited, Usov plans to enjoy having his cat back after five years. "I'm going to take him home and love on him," he said. "What else do you do with a fluffy cat? You love on him. I am so excited."