A STOWAWAY cat which survived an incredible 17-day journey travelling more than 2,000 miles trapped inside a cargo container has been rescued by the RSPCA and officers from Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards.
The skinny white cat leapt from a sealed container on the back of a lorry as it was unloaded at a warehouse in Whitworth, Lancashire, following a long-haul journey from Israel.
The male cat - which is now recovering in a quarantine kennel - has been named Ziggy, after David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust because, like the iconic singer, he has one green eye and one blue eye.
Colin Barton, Lancashire County Council Trading Standards' Animal Health Officer, who helped to capture Ziggy, said: "The cat was obviously starving after its long journey and was easily tempted into a trap with some nice tuna cat food. I think it has probably used some of its nine lives.
"When the container was finally opened staff unloading it got a real surprise when this fluffy white cat shot out."
RSPCA animal collection officer James Ratcliff said: "It's amazing that he survived.
"When I was called, the cat was on a flat roof where he was licking puddles of water because he was so dehydrated. He had been without food and water for some time.
"I think he was scared to death. He'd travelled all that way and got to a strange country, and ran for his life.
"He did collapse once onto his side at one point, so he must have been quite weak, but he was quite feisty which was a good sign. It took more than five hours before we finally caught him in the trap."
Ziggy's incredible journey began when the 40ft container, stocked with plastic goods, was sealed at a factory at Afula in northern Israel, and Ziggy somehow found his way inside.
The exact date when the container was sealed is not known, but it was shipped from the port of Haifa on Tuesday 31 October and arrived in Liverpool 10 days later. From there it was taken by lorry to Whitworth in Lancashire on Friday 17 November 2006 when Ziggy was rescued. Ziggy must have been inside the container for at least 17 days.
Ziggy was not wearing a collar and has no microchip, so it is a mystery where he came from or to whom he belongs. Staff at the quarantine kennel where he is recovering believe he is probably someone's pet because he is so friendly.
Ziggy will have to stay in quarantine for six months as a precaution against rabies, which could cost a total of about £1,700.
Kind-hearted staff at Lancashire County Council have started an emergency fund.
The RSPCA and Lancashire County Council Trading Standards are attempting to trace Ziggy's owners in Israel in the hope of returning him to his original home.