Kitty Crew Member Returned to Tall Ship After Brief Port of Call in Buffalo
July 8, 2019
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
All hands were on deck at the the SPCA Serving Erie County’s 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca site late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
When a good Samaritan brought a stray kitty to the SPCA at approximately 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 5, she was certain the cat had an owner somewhere. After all, the young cat was wearing a harness, and her ID tag said Fiji.
To ensure the four-legged visitor found on Erie Street in Buffalo didn’t require critical veterinary care, SPCA Veterinary Technician Lana Bilger immediately examined the friendly feline, who appeared unharmed, unhurt, and in excellent condition. But after scanning the cat, the SPCA crew realized she clearly had no microchip identification, and further examination of the ID tag on the cat’s harness raised questions; on the back of that tag, Lana noticed the words ‘Picton Castle.’
Unaware of whether this was the name of the cat’s owner, the name of the cat’s hometown, or even, possibly, the name of the cat, SPCA representatives did a quick internet search of the words “Fiji,” “Picton Castle,” and “cat”…and within seconds, it became clear that this cat was a crew member of one of the tall ships, the Picton Castle, currently visiting Buffalo, NY!
Understanding that the ship’s departure was scheduled for the weekend, Lana and SPCA Veterinary Assistant Chelsea knew that it was critical a reunion happen in a short period of time. SPCA Cruelty Investigations Officer Jay Ivory made a call to the ship’s headquarters in Nova Scotia at approximately 12 a.m. EST Saturday morning, Lana sent an email to the address provided on the ship’s website, Fiji was set up in her own personal suite with refreshments and blankets, and the wait began.
By Saturday afternoon, SPCA reps still had not heard back from the Picton Castle and started to create an alternate plan, when SPCA volunteer and AdvoCAT Cary Munschauer heard the cat’s tale and remembered that another SPCA volunteer, Donna Camp, was also volunteering to work the Tall Ships Port of Call: Buffalo.
As a volunteer, Donna was given a list of ship contact names and personal phone numbers. One call from the SPCA to one of those numbers led to three response calls from ship representatives in less than thirty minutes!
Fiji was, indeed, the ship’s four-year-old cat, has traveled the world twice over, and often disembarks the Picton Castle to explore the locations being visited before heading back to the ship when the engines start.
By the time the SPCA was contacted, Picton Castle crew members were already on their way to the West Seneca shelter to retrieve their little stowaway (who was actually adopted onto the ship at six weeks of age in 2014, during a Fiji port of call).
Fiji was microchipped by the SPCA. Staff members also worked with crew members on identification information and contact numbers to ensure that, should Fiji’s visit to a future port of call be extended, she will always be returned before the ship shoves off!
An ardent “Ahoy” goes out to the SPCA’s Lana, Chelsea, Cary, Donna, Jay, along with Hilary Lemperle, Aaron Kandefer, and visiting Lincoln Memorial University veterinary student Marissa, who made sure Fiji was cared for, cuddled, properly identified, and prepped for her vessel’s next voyage!
Learn more about Fiji and keep up on her adventures by visiting the Barque Picton Castle!
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