SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now a story to lift the spirits of an improbable reunion. Five years ago, Viktor Usov adored Sasha, his fluffy, little black kitten. They lived happily in Portland, Ore. Sasha really liked people, and he loved being outdoors. Cue menacing music in your mind.
VIKTOR USOV: He eventually did not come home one night. We were, like, you know, he's just having a good, late evening out.
SIMON: Usov and his partner thought at first, oh, he's a cat. Cats roam. He'll come back. So they waited and waited. They sadly assumed he might have had an unfortunate encounter with a local coyote. They mourned and moved on. But this month, Viktor Usov's phone rang. His partner had news.
USOV: And he goes, yeah, somebody from the Humane Society down in Santa Fe called, and they said they have your cat.
SIMON: New Mexico - more than 1,300 miles away. Mr. Usov had microchipped Sasha, but he still didn't believe this cat was Sasha until he called the Humane Society.
USOV: So we compared a little - some notes back and forth, some markings. Some pictures were sent back and forth. And I was, like, holy crap. That's Sasha. It's him. They asked me - they're like, what do you want to do? I was, like, are you - what do you want to do? Are you kidding me? I want him (laughter). I want him back.
SIMON: The Humane Society didn't know where Sasha had been for five years. Sasha wasn't talking. But he had apparently been enjoying the local cuisine in Santa Fe.
USOV: He's 20 pounds, by the way. They told me he's humungous. So he's obviously been taken care of.
SIMON: American Airlines offered to fly Sasha back to Portland for free, leaving Victor Usov to worry about whether Sasha had missed him.
USOV: This cat either is totally going to remember me, or he's just not going to care at all. Or another possibility - he's going to totally hate my guts. I mean, it's been five years. I have no idea what happened to this cat in the past five years. What if he was traumatized, you know?
SIMON: But when he finally put his arms around Sasha...
USOV: That cat is so chill. He completely relaxes. It was amazing. He's exactly like he was. It's really - it's kind of incredible how little - I mean, he's definitely grown and matured into the handsome beast that he is today. But the personality, the spark that was there when I saw him as that little rat ball of a kitten is completely still present.
SIMON: Aw. Sometimes that's all you can say about a story. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.