Zorro - no cat cage can hold him
It was an escape that would have made his namesake proud.
Guards watched the plane on the tarmac at Christchurch International Airport while quarantine staff and their dogs searched everywhere for Zorro, but he had vanished without a trace.
The elusive domestic cat and his owner were due to arrive in New Zealand on March 3, but by the time the Singapore Airlines flight landed on the tarmac, Zorro was on the other side of the world exploring.
Airline spokesman Murray Wild confirmed to The Press yesterday it was investigating an incident where a cat travelling from Brunei to Christchurch went missing while in transit at Singapore Changi Airport on March 2.
The airline did not know how the cat managed to escape from its cage, slip past security staff and stroll out of the airport, he said.
However, Zorro was later found in Singapore's Changi Village, flown to New Zealand and reunited with his owner - understood to be a man who was teaching in Brunei.
"Talk about nine lives, I think it might have used up 20 of them," Wild said.
He declined to comment further while the incident was investigated.
A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said Zorro's empty cage was found in the hold of a plane at Christchurch International Airport by staff unloading luggage.
"We noticed the cat had escaped and checked out that it hadn't actually entered the country."
Quarantine inspectors hunted for Zorro inside the plane while other staff stood and guarded the exits to make sure he did not make a dash for it.
The search was eventually abandoned without causing delays to any flights, the spokesman said.
"My understanding is that it [cats escaping from their cages] is very rare - I haven't heard of any other incidents."
Zorro arrived back in New Zealand on March 10, was "doing really well" and would spend 10 days in quarantine, the spokesman said.