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For some cats, airline travel is no big deal. But for other cats, just as for some people, it can be a traumatic experience. One recent story, in particular, comes to mind: Ettore, a white, orange, and black calico kitty was traveling home to Italy with his cat dad Salvatore Fazio when the wily feline somehow managed to escape his carrier, according to Newsweek. The two were at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York when Ettore made his escape and he spent three weeks living on the runway.

Ettore’s Escape Was A Tense Situation.

Fazio checked Ettore into cargo but it wasn’t long before he realized his cat wasn’t on the plane and had indeed slipped out of his carrier. That’s when John Debacker, and his rescue organization Long Island Cat Kitten Solution, stepped in.

“At first, we were losing a little hope catching Ettore because it’s been so long and we didn’t know what could have happened to him,” Debacker said. “After the collar was found, we thought he could have been attacked or he could have drowned since it was right near the water.”

While finding the collar was worrisome, it was also the first indication that Ettore was still in the area. It was discovered by a Port Authority employee roughly two weeks after the investigation began. Initially, Debacker was not allowed to search the runway or the tarmac due to security concerns. That changed when the collar was found and he was allowed to search the area with an escort.

At that point, Debacker and another rescuer Teddy Henn set to work hanging flyers all around the airline terminal. Debacker also convinced the airport to install a motion-detecting camera, Yahoo! News reports. Just hours later, the camera picked up footage of the wayward feline. After that, Debacker set up a humane trap.

Patience Pays Off.

After three weeks of dedicated searching, Debacker finally trapped the cat safely. Three pounds had melted away from his 17-pound frame and his nose was also a bit scratched up. Fortunately, he was otherwise healthy and safe. He was “visibly scared” to begin with but soon warmed up to him.

No one knows how Ettore managed his Houdini-esque escape but he’s now residing at the home of Fazio’s girlfriend. He’ll be reunited with his cat-dad when Fazio returns from Europe.

Ettore Makes The News.

Ettore’s escapade captured the attention of media from all over the world. The cat’s popularity has even led Debacker to post this on Facebook:

“When I first made the post about Ettore, in no way did I expect him to become a viral international celebrity. He was even posted by Microsoft now.”

While Ettore was one very lucky cat, Debacker says it’s more common for pets to escape their carriers than you might think. He recommends anyone traveling with a pet secure the carrier door with zip ties or bungee cords. He also advises travelers to avoid placing pets in the cargo hold. It’s something that can be “traumatic” for them, he told Newsweek.

Tips For Planning An Escape-Free Trip.

VCA, an animal hospital organization with locations throughout the U.S. and Canada has compiled a list of things you can do to make things easier on your cat. Simple things, like traveling on an empty stomach can keep your cat from suffering from nausea and vomiting. Lining your cat’s carrier with an absorbent “puppy potty pad” in case your kitty needs to go to the bathroom is also recommended. You’ll also need to bring latex gloves and a Ziploc bag to clean up any messes. If you’re wanting to find out more, here’s the full list of VCA’s recommendations.

Photo: facebook.com/salvatore.fazio.5

We’re glad Ettore is now safe and sound after such a bold escape. He’s happily be back in the home of his overjoyed cat dad.

Photos property of @john.debacker.50 except where noted.

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