Cat travels overseas alone
Oct 2005


Abbey McElhiney, 5, foreground, sits with her family, from left, father, Donny, cat Tori, brother Nick and mother, Lesley, as she holds a photo of herself and the family's missing cat, Emily, at their home in Appleton, Wis.

Sharon Cekada

APPLETON, Wisconsin When Emily the cat went missing a month ago, her owners looked for their wandering pet where she had ended up before the local animal shelter.

But this week they learned Emily sailed to France.

Lesley McElhiney figures her cat went prowling around a paper warehouse near home and ended up in a cargo container that went by ship across the Atlantic Ocean and was trucked to Nancy, a city in northeastern France near the border with Germany.

Employees at a French lamination company found her in the container, checked her tags and called Emily's veterinarian back in the U.S., John Palarski.

"It probably had access to food and water,'' Palarski said. "I doubt if it went three weeks without it. There must have been a lot of mice on the boat. Even if it was in the cargo department, you would assume there was water down there. She had to have something.''

Palarski faxed the cat's vaccination records to French authorities to help remove her from quarantine, but the family is wondering exactly how they will retrieve the pet.

Emily will need a health certificate from France to return home, and she will have to go through quarantine again on entering the United States, Palarski said.

"The only thing we can think right now is buying a plane ticket,'' McElhiney said. "She already cost us some the first time we got her from the humane society. She's getting to be an expensive little thing.''