Pregnant rescue cat found after 11 days of search at Ottawa airport

“I wasn’t going to give it up, that’s for sure,” lead investigator Janice Richard said Tuesday.

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After rescuers searched high and low for a small, scared, pregnant cat for nearly two weeks, Donna MacRae received the phone call of a lifetime.

MacRae, of Furry Tales Cat Rescue, says a team of expert cat rescuers had searched “high and low” for Athena, a brown tabby who was rescued from a landfill in northern Manitoba, but managed to escape from her carrier after landing at Ottawa airport. on March 21.

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The team received a tip that a cat had been seen in one of the airport’s fuel buildings, a restricted area that cat hunters could not access.

“Lo and behold, my phone started ringing this morning at 2:30 a.m.,” MacRae said in an interview Tuesday, adding that a night worker named Blake Fawcett managed to catch Athena after he saw the cat in footage of security.

“I’m still in shock,” MacRae says. “I was crying, I’ve been crying all morning.”

Athena, a pregnant cat rescued from Manitoba, has been found 11 days after going missing at the Ottawa airport.
Athena, a pregnant cat rescued from Manitoba, has been found 11 days after going missing at the Ottawa airport. Photo by Tony Caldwell /postmedia

Krista Kealey, vice-president of communications and public affairs for the Ottawa International Airport Authority, said Fawcett does not work for the airport, but for the company in charge of refueling the planes. He got He saw the information about the missing cat and took it upon himself to bring a carrier and food to try to get her out of hiding, he said.

“We were happy to support the volunteers’ efforts to find her, but very relieved and excited that there was a happy outcome for Athena,” he said by email. “We are also very grateful for Blake’s proactivity and efforts in finding her safe and healthy.”

Attempts to contact Fawcett were unsuccessful Tuesday, but Janice Richard, the head trapper who worked 13-hour night shifts searching for Athena, says he is nothing short of a hero.

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“I can’t wait to meet him,” she said Tuesday. “He is a hero”.

Richard, an experienced cat hunter and finder, led a team of volunteers in the search for Athena, including a particularly vocal cat called Boots, whose loud meows were used in an attempt to lure Athena out of hiding.

“I just wasn’t going to give it up, that’s for sure,” Richard said.

Janice Richard poses for a photo with Athena, a pregnant rescue cat from Manitoba, who has been found 11 days after going missing at the Ottawa airport.
Janice Richard poses for a photo with Athena, a pregnant cat rescued from Manitoba, who has been found 11 days after going missing at the Ottawa airport. Photo by Tony Caldwell /postmedia

Richard and the team worked long hours setting up traps and equipment, but Richard says airport staff were instrumental in their search efforts.

“They really nailed it,” he said, “I can’t say enough about them. They were very supportive; If I walked through the airport, they would ask me for an update. “They were just fabulous.”

Athena is currently resting and preparing to go to a foster home after a visit to the vet. Richard calls the little tabby “adorable” and a “survivor,” adding that he expected her to be in worse shape after living outdoors for nearly two weeks.

“I was hungry, very hungry,” she said. “She’s fast asleep right now, since she probably hasn’t slept in days.”

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