HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — China the cat got her name after being delivered in a crate holding motorcycle gear that a North Carolina man had ordered to be shipped from Shanghai.
Eric Congdon opened the cargo freight that left port in China on April 3 and found the furry stowaway, which had chewed through one of the boxes. After at least 35 days on a ship, the cat was weak but still alive.
"I saw something in the container move," Congdon said. "I turned up the headlights on the fork lift to get a better look."
That was when he saw the cat cowering in a corner of the cargo crate.
Congdon, owner of Olympia Moto Sports in Hendersonville, said he and a co-worker called Henderson County Animal Services when the cat wouldn't let them go near her.
While Congdon has been in the wholesale business for 15 years, he's never received live animals with any of his shipments.
"I have seen some small dead critters before," he said, adding that it would have been impossible for the cat to get in after the shipment was sealed in China.
How could China survive for so long on no food and water?
"Usually we say that animals can only survive a few weeks without food and only a few days without water," said Raleigh-based veterinarian Dr. Michelle Misavage. "The theory is that cats have such good kidneys their bodies adjust to the lack of water and somehow they received small amounts of moisture from condensation."
A co-worker of Congdon's plans to adopt China, as animal service workers are calling her, if she checks out OK with a veterinarian. But that might not be so easy.
"We have to take precautions," said animal services manager Brenda Miller, explaining that the cat came from a country with different strains of rabies. State law says any animal coming into the country must be vaccinated and quarantined for six months.
Congdon hopes the cat won't have to be euthanized.
"It would be a shame for the cat to die after it survived such an ordeal," he said.