EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two countries, nearly 5,000 miles and eight weeks later, a stray cat from Greece has finally made it to his forever home in Massachusetts.
Cathy Varetimos, who regularly travels to and from Greece, tells 12 News she brought the cat, named Finn, to the United States in early October.
Varetimos said at first, Finn seemed to be handling the trip well.
But things took a turn for the worse come takeoff.
“Finn started going wild,” Varetimos recalled. “He was screaming and biting me.”
Varetimos said Finn ended up ripping through his carrier.
In an effort to calm Finn down, she wrapped him in a blanket and brought him into the bathroom.
Varetimos tells 12 News she spent the vast majority of the 10-hour flight to Logan International Airport in the bathroom comforting Finn.
“I was emotional,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with this little guy.”
Thankfully, Varetimos was given a new cat carrier to transport Finn off the plane.
Varetimos said she then met up with Finn’s new owners, Robin Kelley and her daughter, who were eagerly awaiting his arrival.
It was an emotional and exciting moment that Varetimos said ultimately led to a lapse in judgment.
“I don’t know what I was thinking taking him out of the carrier,” Varetimos said. “I was clearly not in my right frame of mind … but I handed him to [Kelley]. She was crying as she was holding him and was like ‘this is the best thing you’ve ever done.'”
But Finn was still shaken from the flight, and refused to let go of Kelley when they attempted to put him back in the carrier.
That’s when Varetimos suggested she walk them to their car, which was parked out front.
“I said ‘wrap him up in the blanket and we’ll just walk out front,'” she recalled. “Well that didn’t happen.”
Frightened by the unfamiliar sounds of the city, Finn jumped from Kelley’s arms as soon as she brought him outside.
Varetimos said he crossed several lanes of oncoming traffic before disappearing into a nearby parking lot.
“How he didn’t get hit is beyond me,” she said. “It was terrible.”
Varetimos said she knew immediately she had to find Finn, and returned to Boston with her husband John and sister-in-law Susan Seminara the next day to search for him.
Their search for Finn intensified in the weeks that followed.
“[My family and I] were down in Boston three times a week for hours putting up posters and knocking on doors,” she said.
Varetimos received help from a Dorchester police officer, who patrolled neighborhoods in search of Finn, as well as residents who kept a close eye on their home surveillance cameras.
She even brought in a pet tracker from Virginia. But every scent trail that could’ve potentially led to Finn was ultimately a dead end.
“We started getting discouraged,” Varetimos recalled.
Just when Varetimos was on the verge of losing all hope, she received a call Tuesday from an animal shelter in Central Falls who claimed they had Finn.
“We thought it was a joke,” Varetimos said. “We thought, ‘Really? Show us a picture. Who are you?'”
“Finally, the guy was like, ‘I have a [microchip],’ and the chip doesn’t lie,” she continued.
Varetimos immediately called Kelley, who confirmed she had registered Finn’s microchip in her name.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s him,” she recalled. “It’s a Christmas miracle.”
Finn was reunited with his new family the next day.
It’s unclear how Finn made it all the way to Central Falls from Boston, but all that matters to Varetimos and Kelley is that he’s safe and healthy.
Kelley said this should serve as a reminder to all pet owners to make sure their furry friends are microchipped.
“That was pretty much his saving grace,” Kelley said.