Air travel isn’t a big deal for some cats. However, it may be a terrible event for some cats, just as it can be for some people. I’m reminded of a recent story in particular: According to Newsweek, Ettore, a white, orange, and black calico cat, was going home to Italy with his cat dad Salvatore Fazio when the crafty feline managed to escape his carrier. The two were at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York when Ettore made his escape and he spent three weeks living on the runway.
Fazio checked Ettore into cargo but it wasn’t long before he realized his cat wasn’t on the plane and had indeed slipped out of his carrier. That’s when John Debacker, and his rescue organization Long Island Cat Kitten Solution, stepped in.
“At first, we were losing hope in finding Ettore since it had been so long and we had no idea what had happened to him,” Debacker explained. “After the collar was discovered, we believed he had been murdered or drowned because it was so close to the water.”
While discovering the collar was alarming, it was also the first sign that Ettore was still in the vicinity. It was found two weeks after the inquiry began by a Port Authority employee. Due to security concerns, Debacker was first denied access to the runway and tarmac. When the collar was discovered, he was given permission to explore the area with an escort.
Debacker and another rescuer, Teddy Henn, began hanging flyers all throughout the airplane terminal at that moment. According to Yahoo! News, Debacker also persuaded the airport to install a motion-detecting camera. The camera picked up footage of the stray cat just hours later.
After three weeks of dedicated searching, Debacker finally trapped the cat safely. Three pounds had melted away from his 17-pound frame and his nose was also a bit scratched up. Fortunately, he was otherwise healthy and safe. He was “visibly scared” to begin with but soon warmed up to him.
Nobody knows how Ettore made his Houdini-like escape, but he’s currently staying at Fazio’s girlfriend’s house. When Fazio returns from Europe, he’ll be reunited with his cat-father.
Ettore’s antics drew the attention of journalists from all around the world. Debacker even posted this on Facebook as a result of the cat’s popularity:
“When I first made the post about Ettore, in no way did I expect him to become a viral international celebrity. He was even posted by Microsoft now.”
While Ettore was a lucky cat, Debacker claims that cats escaping their crates are more often than you may imagine. Anyone traveling with a pet should fasten the container door using zip ties or bungee cords, according to him. Travelers should also avoid transporting pets in the cargo hold, according to him. He told Newsweek that it’s something that may be “traumatic” for them.
VCA, a non-profit animal hospital with facilities across the United States and Canada, has created a list of things you can do to make life simpler for your cat. Simple measures like going on an empty stomach can prevent nausea and vomiting in your cat. It’s also a good idea to line your cat’s carrier with an absorbent “puppy potty pad” in case your kitty wants to go to the bathroom. Latex gloves and a Ziploc bag to mop up any spills are also required. Here’s the complete list of VCA’s suggestions if you’re interested in learning more.
We’re glad Ettore is now safe and sound after such a bold escape. He’s happily be back in the home of his overjoyed cat dad.