This is a truly epic cat's tale.
Honey - an 18-month-old tabby - has just had a cross-country adventure after hitching a ride on a north-bound truck, spending a night in Te Kuiti, switching vehicles to make a rendezvous pick-up, switching vehicles again before returning home to New Plymouth.
Last night a content-looking Honey was reunited with her young owner Hayley Duckett (12) and her family at the New Plymouth SPCA after a carefully-executed cat rescue plan fell purrfectly into place.
On Wednesday night Honey's meal-time and then bed-time absence was glaringly noticed in the Duckett's Fitzroy household.
It was then Christine Duckett remembered the furniture removal truck in their street earlier that day.
"The furniture truck was there when we went to pick up Lucy at drama school about 5.30pm and Honey was sitting outside on the footpath. When we came back about 6.15pm I particularly remember the truck was leaving because I had to give way to it," Mrs Duckett recalled yesterday.
With the truck's departure Honey's road trip had begun.
"When she never came in for her feed or bed, I said `I think she's on that truck'."
Come Thursday, and still no sign of the much-loved Honey, saw Mrs Duckett putting a call through to the removal company, leaving a message on its answer machine.
That afternoon Honey was making herself known - in Te Kuiti. It's here that SPCA staff member Jackie Poles Smith takes up the tale.
"We got a call on Thursday from Allied Movers to say a cat had turned up in Te Kuiti in the back of a truck," Mrs Poles Smith said.
At that stage the SPCA hadn't received any reports of the missing Fitzroy moggy, but the moving company had received Mrs Duckett's message - so the cat rescue plan was put into place.
With no SPCA branch in Te Kuiti, Mrs Poles Smith found Honey a bed for the night with the daughter of the man who had moved from the Duckett's street.
Mrs Poles Smith then went about contacting her husband Clive, who works in Napier and was travelling home yesterday, to pick Honey up.
"I then co-ordinated a meeting at Eight-Mile-Junction south of Te Kuiti and Clive picked Honey up there. We're calling it The Great Cat Rescue," she said laughing.
"But it's good to remember if you lose your cat, call the SPCA as soon as possible."
Honey seemed happy enough on her return journey and just snuggled down in her cage and went to sleep.
Mrs Duckett said Honey's return was an especially happy one for the girls, Hayley and younger sister Lucy (10), because they had recently had to put down Honey's sibling.
Last night Hayley said Honey would be treated with some fresh meat for dinner. Mrs Poles Smith said the removal company told her it's not the first time a cat has taken a trip in one of its trucks - and it won't be the last.
- Taranaki Daily News
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