LOS ANGELES – A feline stowaway discovered riding aboard a big rig in California's Riverside County turned out to belong to a Georgia family who has been missing him since the Fourth of July, officials said Friday.
The tabby, named "Kitty Bitty," was apparently along for the long haul as a truck driver for Pepsi made the trip out west, according to John Welsh, a spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
“We can only surmise he somehow ended up over at a Pepsi facility in the Georgia area, not too far I believe from where this owner lives, and somehow jumped on the back of a truck or on a pallet,” Welsh told KTLA. “Somewhere in that truck the cat was undetected for quite some time.”
It’s unclear for how long he was traveling cross country but, because he is so skinny, Welsh believes he was in the truck for at least a few days. He was also suffering from dehydration when he was found but was soon revived with veterinary care.
The feline is currently being housed at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley. But Animal Services staff are pooling their own money so that he can be flown home to Georgia ahead of the Christmas holiday, Welsh said.
Animal Services officials were tipped off to the missing pet's whereabouts by the truck driver. Kitty Bitty's owners were then identified thanks to a tag he had certifying that he received his rabies vaccine.
His Georgia family had assumed the worst possible fate befell their pet and were ecstatic to learn he was alive and safe in California following his six-month adventure, Welsh said.
This isn't the first time a commuting cat has been discovered by Riverside County Animal Services officials, according to Welsh.
A South Carolina cat aboard a U-Haul van was previously turned over to authorities following a state border inspection in Blythe. That pet was also flown back east aboard a jet.
“We’re always pleased when we can get the cat back to the owner, even if it takes a cross-country flight to get the cat back home,” Welsh said.