The little cat that caused a big stir

Spice the cat

IDEXX Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ayers has a soft spot for animals—especially cats: he has adopted four shelter cats of his own. That’s why, when he read about Spice, a young cat who turned up in Portland, Maine, after having made a mysterious cross-country trip, he was determined to help reunite the little cat with its owner.

What happened next reflects the company’s purpose and guiding principles, an aspirational statement that every IDEXX employee—including Ayers—strives to fulfill. The statement defines not just what we do, but why we are in business. And it inspires actions like those Jon took on behalf of Spice and her owner.

From trek to tech and home

Spice slipped out of her house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Halloween night. Five days and 2,300 miles later she was found in a gym bag that had been left on the steps of a thrift store in Portland, Maine. In addition to the little cat with a slight respiratory infection, the bag contained a few cans of food.

We’ll probably never know how Spice got across the country or into that bag—she certainly isn’t telling. But the staff at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland was able to find out where she belonged. Fortunately for Spice and her owner, the kitten had been microchipped.

But finding Spice’s owner was only part of the solution; getting the little cat home presented a bigger challenge. Spice’s owner didn’t have the means to finance her pet’s return trip.

“Having a pet go missing is every owner’s worst nightmare,” said Ayers. “I read the story about Spice and realized that both pet and owner, each in their own way, were communicating the importance of their mutual bond…I felt compelled to reunite these two.”

Jeana Roth with Spice the cat

Jeana Roth, Community Relations Manager at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, with Spice at the Portland International Jetport as they wait to board their flight to Albuquerque.

So he offered to pay for Spice’s trip home. In the end, Spice flew back to Albuquerque complements of Southwest Airlines, just over a month after she escaped and accompanied by two animal refuge league staff members. Ayers generously covered Spice’s medical expenses during her stay in Maine as well as the refuge league staff’s accommodations in New Mexico.

“Spice’s story really touched my heart,” said Ayers. “She’s a miracle cat, and I felt like I could do something to ensure her story had a happy ending.”

A miracle cat who traveled 2,300 miles—twice—and found her way back home thanks to a tiny bit of technology and the kindness of animal-loving strangers.

View the Portland Press Herald’s coverage of Spice’s journey home.

Information for pet owners: Microchipping 101: Why Is it Important to Microchip My Pet?

IDEXX Purpose & Guiding Principles

To be a great company that creates exceptional long-term value for our customers, employees and shareholders by enhancing the health and well-being of pets, people and livestock.