IMAGE: Ziggy the cat
Ziggy chills out in this undated handout photo made available by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
updated 11/24/2006 10:32:51 PM ET 2006-11-25T03:32:51

Emerging with a shock of white fur, a cat stunned cargo workers in England as it jumped out of a goods container after a 17-day sea voyage from Israel to Britain, a journey of more than 2,000 miles, an animal charity said Friday.

Animal rescue officials said the stowaway was starving and dehydrated when workers at a warehouse in Whitworth, a town in the county of Lancashire, northwestern England, discovered the unexpected cargo last Friday.

Staff said the cat — named Ziggy because it had eyes of different colors, one green and one blue, like singer David Bowie and his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust — fled from staff when the container was opened, hiding for over five hours.

"I think he was scared to death. He'd traveled all that way and got to a strange country, and ran for his life," said James Ratcliff, an officer with charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The animal charity was called to help, and officers discovered the cat by a pool of water on the warehouse roof, tempting it toward them with a plate of tuna fish, Ratcliff said.

Local trading standards officer Colin Barton said the animal began his journey at a factory in Afula, northern Israel, on Oct. 31, when a container was sealed and taken to the Israeli port of Haifa for shipment.

It arrived in Liverpool, northern England, 10 days later and was taken to the warehouse, where staff had expected to unpack a cargo of plastic goods, he said.

"When the container was finally opened, staff unloading it got a real surprise when this fluffy white cat shot out," Barton said. "I think it has probably used some of its nine lives."

The animal has been tended to by veterinarians and is now being kept at an animal quarantine as officials attempt to trace its owners in Israel, Ratcliff said.

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