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Cats' Adventures & Travels 4

Lucky, at Missoula, Montana
Emily, from Wisconsin

Lucky: Rescued from an icy river

Missoula, Montana

Early in the morning two days after Christmas 2005, passers-by on a bridge over the Clark Fork river in Missoula, Montana, in the north-western US, heard desperate cries for help from a cat. A tortoiseshell (calico) domestic cat was seen to be trapped in a cage which had been weighted down with a large rock. It had obviously been thrown from the bridge, but luckily for the occupant it had landed on some ice rather than in the water.

The Missoula Fire Department was called out immediately and soon arrived with a suitable rescue boat. The feline seemed very relieved to see firemen John Macrow and Philip Keating. It wasn't clear how long it had been there, but it was soon on its way to Missoula's East Pine Street fire station, and after being dried out was found to be a female. Some left-over Christmas turkey and milk soon made her feel better and she was described as 'very friendly'. She didn't appear to be very well fed — 'really skinny, nothing but skin and bones, with collar marks where a too-small collar had rubbed off the fur,' said Keating.

Lucky the cat with her new owner after her rescue, Missoula, Montana, 2005 At the end of their shift John Macrow decided he would keep the moggy rather than subject it to any more trauma; so, after a veterinary check-up at the Four Paws animal clinic, who prescribed plenty of food and TLC, he took her home. His 12-year-old daughter Taylor was thrilled to bits, as she had long wished for a cat — and a name was easy: Lucky. 'It's the sweetest cat,' said Macrow. 'It even curled up with my black Labs this morning.'

Following the rescue and reports of the incident on the wire services, on CNN and on the internet, the Missoula Fire Department was deluged with phone calls and e-mails from all over the States, including Hawaii, and even from abroad, congratulating the firemen and in some cases offering cash to pay for Lucky's vet's visit. These offers were accepted and after paying the bill, the remaining money was donated to the Missoula branch of the Humane Society of Western Montana. City fire chief Tom Steenberg said, 'We're just doing our job. We are happy that we've got the tools and the firefighters with the training to go out in the river and operate this kind of rescue safely . . . we really aren't in the business of getting cats out of trees any more . . . a can of tuna usually works. In this instance, with a caged cat out on the ice, tuna fish wasn't going to work, and we have a lot of people here with big hearts. We couldn't ignore a situation like that.'

The story has a happy ending, but could so easily have been different. The United States Humane Society offered a 2500 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the cat's plight. I find it extraordinary that anyone would go to such lengths to dispose of a cat; surely all they had to do was go to the local animal shelter for help, if they could no longer cope with it?

Emily: another 'container cat'

Appleton, Wisconsin

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Emily the cat from Wisconsin on her return flight to the USA from France, 2005 One-year-old Emily disappeared from her home in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA at the end of September 2005. On 24 October she turned up in Nancy, France, in a container of paper bales, having wandered into the container at the distribution centre of a paper company near to her home. The bales were taken by truck to Chicago before being shipped by sea to Belgium, and Emily emerged when the container was delivered to its final destination — she was frightened, thirsty and a little thinner, but otherwise well. From information on Emily's collar tags, employees at the Raflatac laminating company were able to place a call to her vet, who in turn notified her owners. The McElhiney family had searched extensively for Emily after she disappeared, but as time went by they could only hope she was safe and being well looked after somewhere else.

From accounts on the internet it wasn't clear where Emily stayed in France, but apparently she remained there for a couple of months which included some time in quarantine.

Emily the cat reunited with Lesley McElhiney and son Nick, 2005 Emily the cat, relieved to be going home to Wisconsin, 2005 In December Continental Airlines offered her a seat (in business class, no less!) to return to the United States with a personal escort. She was flown first to Newark, NJ and then on a connecting flight to Milwaukee, the airport nearest her home. According to an airline steward on her international flight, Emily didn't care for the salmon fillet that Continental offered, preferring her French cat food. This story prompted a large number of comments and replies on a French blog site, including one saying that the author had sampled the food served on Continental Airlines and thought that he too might have preferred the cat food!

Amid much media interest there was a reunion at the airport with members of her family (above), and then Emily returned home to rejoin her two feline companions, Tori and Ringo. Lesley McElhiney commented, "She seems a little quieter, maybe a little wiser."

BBC News: Stowaway cat flies home in style with a video of Emily's homecoming Cat-Cidental Tourist
MSNBC: Stowaway cat flies business class back home, including video

The tale of another 'container cat' can be found as the final item here.
You may also like to read the story of possibly the most well-known 'accidental traveller': see The Voyage of Colin's Cat.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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