Pet parent Astha Shah’s anxiety, and her cat Nala’s grand adventure,came to an end last Friday.
Airport security traced the eight-month-old feline, which — after being loaded in an Air India flight from Bengaluru on September 1 — managed to slip out of her crate in the aircraft’s cargo belly, steal into the terminal building, and roam the airport for four days, before she was rescued and reunited with her family.
An official from the Delhi-based NGO Wildlife SOS, which helped track Nala, said that Shah was travelling with her two cats to Delhi on the Air India flight.
“Both cats were being transported in certified pet carriers. When the plane landed in Delhi, the passenger was informed that one of the cats went missing from her carrier during transit at the Indira Gandhi Internation airport.
“Our enquiries revealed that the pet carrier in which Nala was put had come undone in the aircraft’s cargo compartment.The cat had slipped out and gotten lost on the vast Delhi airport premises,” a spokesperson for the Wildlife SOS said. When Shah was told that Nala had gone missing, she cancelled her onward journey to Ahmedabad and stayed back in Delhi to help find the cat.
“The airport authorities immediately launched a search for the missing feline. Wildlife SOS also assisted with the search operation by placing food baits at several locations inside the airport to lure Nala out. After four days of tracking the cat, she was finally located in the airport’s cargo hold area,” the spokesperson said.
Even after she was traced, it took the Wildlife SOS team hours to ease out the terrified and hungry Nala from the cargo facility before being reunited with Shah, the spokesperson added.
Shah, who lives in Bengaluru, said the cats are her family and the incident had left her in tears. “House cats struggle to survive on their own for long. The past few days have been extremely stressful, but I received a lot of support from the animal community, the Air India staff, airport authorities and the airport operator. This incident showed me that compassion is not dead and people will still go the extra mile to help a stranger desperately searching for her beloved pet,” Shah told Wildlife SOS.
Air India also said the airline was delighted that Nala is now safe with her pet parent.