French Chat Named Mimine Walks Eight-Hundred Kilometers to Track Down Family That Abandoned Her
"The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another. The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."
-- Robert de Laroche, Histoire secrète du chat
There is a considerable amount of truth in the old adage that dogs belong to people whereas cats belong to places. This can be a heartbreaking thing to learn, especially for individuals who change abodes only to later discover that their beloved cat insists upon returning to its old neighborhood.
Keeping a cat locked up inside for the first month after relocating sometimes works but not always. Given the opportunity, some cats will return to their old turf no matter how devoted their owners are to them.
Contrary to what the Pet Show's Warren Eckstein and others preach, not all outdoor cats can be made into indoor cats. Unhappy situations of this nature ultimately force individuals to choose between imprisoning their cat inside where it will be miserable or allowing it outside where it will surely return to its old home.
There are of course exceptions to every rule and although it is a considerably rarer phenomenon, some cats belong to people rather than to places. Or, as French writer Francoise Giroud once put it, "On ne possède pas un chat, c'est lui qui vous possède." Mimine is such a cat.
She is a three-year-old brown and gray French cat who spent thirteen-months walking eight-hundred kilometers (498 miles) in order to rejoin her family. As incredible as the journey was in itself, it is even more amazing that she was able to find her family's new address.
Mimine's saga began in March of 2006 when her family relocated from Toulouse in the Bordeaux region of southwest France to Treveray in Meuse in the north. The unidentified family reportedly gave Mimine to another family before they left.
The were, quite naturally, dumbfounded when Mimine showed up on their doorstep in Treveray on April 17th. Although the cat was neither microchipped nor wearing a collar, the family insists nonetheless that it is their old cat.
"Sa robe est la même. Son comportement est le même. Et nos enfants l'ont reconnue," the woman of the house told La Châine Info on April 21st. (See "Un chat fait 800 km pour retrouver ses maîtres!") "Aucune autre chatte ne serait arriveé en courant pour se frotter à nous et réclaimer des caresses alors qu' elle était pleine."
It was, however, Mimine's legendary disdain for croquettes that ultimately convinced the family of her identity.
Despite her perilous ordeal, Mimine arrived in Treveray in good shape except for blisters on her paws and a few ticks that had hitchhiked a ride at her expense. For whatever it is worth, the family has stated that it plans on holding on to Mimine this time around.
Veterinarian Marie-Pierre Francois claims to have verified that the long journey actually took place but she has not revealed how she arrived at this conclusion. Like everyone else, she is at her wit's end to explain how Mimine was able to locate her old family.
|Mimine Crossing the Street|
"Il est très curieux que le chat ait voyagé aussi loin dans un endroit où il n'est jamais allé," she admitted. "Les chats peuvent utiliser leur sixième sens. La nature nous réserve parfois de belles surprises."
Although rare, cases similar to this one have been previously reported. Usually, however, they have involved cats that either had been stolen or purposefully dumped in far off places and who were able somehow to later find their way back home. In such instances, it is generally believed that they found their way by following the stars.
Mimine's exploits are inexplicable, however. There is not any conceivable way that she could have known that her family had relocated to Treveray or how to get there unless she is psychic.
To be cynical, her adopted family in Toulouse could have driven her to Treveray and let her out on the doorstep of her previous owners. It is also possible that this is a hoax or that the famiiy is mistaken and the cat is not in fact Mimine.
Presumably, Francois explored all of these possibilities before dismissing them and declaring that the trip actually occurred. In that case, Mimine's modus operandi will likely remain a Chinese puzzle.
"The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another," Robert de Laroche wrote in his book entitled, Histoire secrete du chat. "The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."
As far as Mimine's well-being is concerned, more needs to be known concerning why her caregivers so cruelly abandoned her in the first place. More importantly, animal welfare agencies should make it their business to ensure that they do not repeat their previous mistake and mistreat her again.
Mimine is a special cat and she deserves a good home.
Photos: The Daily Express (Mimine) and Agence France Presse (Mimine on the street). Although these photos accompanied news stories about Mimine, they may not in fact be actual photos of her.