Trapped In Shipping Container, Cat Survives Journey From China To Canada

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on February 20, 2020

Resilient and strong, cats often survive hardships that would take down humans or other animals. Truly, cats are a mystery of will with something magical mixed in. Journey the cat offers proof of this with her tale of hardship and survival.

Across the Pacific Ocean, in Shenzhen, China, curious Journey somehow wandered into a shipping container, but the doors were closed behind her. That part of her life will forever remain a mystery. But known for certain, Journey was trapped for three weeks inside the dark container as it sailed the deep ocean on a cargo ship bound for Vancouver, Canada. From Vancouver, the container traveled to Prince George, B.C.

Journey remained trapped inside.

One Hour of Behaviour Therapy
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It’s theorized the starving cat drank the condensation that formed on the walls of the shipping container. As for food, there was nothing to eat for the duration of the 14,000-mile journey. Journey didn’t see the light of day until staff at a Prince George auto glass distributor opened the container doors.

Rescued, but Sick and Afraid

Once Journey was found among the packing materials, animal control officers transported the emaciated cat to the North Cariboo District SPCA. Journey was taken to a vet for treatment and quarantine protocols required for animals entering the country. Aged around 6 years old, the scared kitty weighed only 3 pounds when she was put on fluids and taken into isolation.

One Hour of Behaviour Therapy
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SPCA North Cariboo District manager Alex Schare reported, “I knew right away when I heard that this cat had spent weeks in a container that she not only had an amazing story but also that she would require extensive care and rehabilitation to recover from her ordeal.”

Alex was right. After weeks of fluids, vaccinations, quarantine, and a slow reintroduction to foods, Journey began to become stronger in body, but her mind was still haunted. She feared humans so strongly she’d hiss and hide when anyone came near. Signs pointed to Journey being a feral cat back in China.

One Hour of Behaviour Therapy
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From Terror to the Patient Hands of a Foster Mom

Though her body healed, Journey still lived the anguish of her experience mentally. She’d spent weeks hungry and alone in the dark, only to be reintroduced to the world in an unfamiliar place surrounded by humans who wanted to poke and prod. She couldn’t understand they only meant to help her. Under a terror this fierce,  Journey was having a hard time overcoming.

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But Dr. Karen van Haaften, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist serving as the senior manager of behavior and welfare for BC SPCA, felt the terrified cat could be helped.

As the kitty cat’s foster mom, Dr. van Haaften spent months working with Journey. From too scared to come out from under the bed to allowing touches from human hands, Journey came a long way under the care and patience of Dr. van Haaften.

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Like other unsocial felines, food was key to winning the weary cat. Plus, Journey seemed to be a playful cat in her deepest nature, a simple wand toy helping to forge a connection between Journey and her foster mom.

“It was this one particular wand toy that she’s going to be adopted with, that she just could not resist. She had a little wiggle and everything, it was adorable,” said Dr. van Haaften.

Ready for Journey to Forever Home

And now, thanks to her foster mom’s diligence, Journey is ready for adoption!

BC SPCA/Facebook

Journey needs a quiet home with no other animals and only adults. The Facebook post announcing her adoption availability also revealed, “She loves to play and can now tolerate being touched and is ready for a forever home where she can continue to build trust with people.” After spending up some of her nine lives in the shipping container, Journey is ready to spend the rest of her lives in peace and quiet.

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