Kitty ends up in luggage, travels from Florida to Texas
A Florida kitty who crawled into her owner's luggage — then went through an airport X-ray machine, was loaded onto a plane, endured a frigid flight, and was mistakenly picked up by a stranger — has returned home after her harrowing journey.
"She's got to be at four or five [lives] now," Seth Levy said after his 10-month-old pet was returned Sunday night by a kind stranger who went home to Fort Worth, Texas, with the wrong bag and Gracie Mae inside to boot.
The last time Levy's wife, Kelly, saw Gracie was before she took her husband to the Florida airport. The 24-year-old went back to her house in Palm Beach Gardens late Friday to find the bottom step, where Gracie would usually be waiting, empty.
She tore the house apart looking for the cat, who had been spayed just days before. Levy and her dad took out bathroom tiles and part of a cabinet to check a crawl space, and papered the neighbourhood with "lost cat" signs.
Then she got a phone call.
"Hi, you're not going to believe this, but I am calling from Fort Worth, Texas, and I accidentally picked up your husband's luggage. And when I opened the luggage, a cat jumped out," Kelly Levy quoted the caller saying.
Rob Carter said he made it home with the suitcase before realizing it wasn't his — and there was a big surprise inside.
'Screamed like a little girl'
"I went to unpack and saw some of the clothes and saw it wasn't my suitcase," he said. "I was going to close it, and a kitten jumped out and ran under the bed. I screamed like a little girl."
Carter said that he eventually was able to get the cat to come out from under the bed.
"In the morning, I got close enough to see its collar and the phone number on it," he said. "So I called the number and got a hold of the crying wife of the traveller."
The tabby made the 2,000-kilometre-plus trip home on an $80 plane ticket. Carter said he considered keeping the cat before he knew she had a home.
"We were going to name it Suitcase," he said.
Erik Rigler, an aircraft accident and reconstruction expert, told the New York Daily News that Gracie is lucky to be alive.
Rigler, a former FBI agent, said the temperature in the cargo hold, although pressurized, would have dropped well below freezing during the four-hour flight.
"When you're at an altitude above 30,000 feet, the temperature is next to nothing," Rigler said. "The only explanation I would have is possibly the luggage itself held enough heat to keep the cat alive."