Tabby cat survives for two months inside a shipping container

This story is all over the Internet as might be expected because it is an extraordinary example of how the domestic cat can survive under the most extreme conditions. But it has to be said that the inquisitive domestic cat not uncommonly find themselves trapped in shipping containers or in the backs of lorries.

Chapman and Monty
Chapman and Monty. Photo: the Daily Mail.
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There have been quite a few stories in the past of cats trapped for a month inside a container. This cat’s owner, Beverley Chapman, 59, from Helston, Cornwall, UK, believes that her cat was trapped in the container for two months. It is also believed that her cat lived off spiders and the condensation inside the container.

It is said that he lost about two thirds of his weight. His name is Monty by the way and he is 12-years-of-age. I would like to comment on this because the story itself is not that unusual for the reasons mentioned.

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Helston is by the sea or not far from it. The home range or territory that a domestic cat allowed outside might consider his own is about 4 acres normally. These shipping containers which you can see in the photograph must have been not that far from Beverley Chapman’s home. I do not wish to chide this woman because she has been through a lot of anxiety but she might have checked the containers much earlier if she had been aware that the inquisitive domestic cat likes to nose around this sort of storage unit.

Monty exits container
Monty exits container. Screenshot from Mail online video.

I suspect that the containers might even be within eyesight of her home. Thinking outside of the box might have saved this cat a lot of anguish and discomfort. It was purely by chance that the boss of a signmaking firm, Richard Hall, walked past the shipping containers and heard a few week cat cries coming from inside.

He contacted the keyholder of the container and had the foresight to film the moment when the heavy metal doors were opened in Monty was coaxed out (he thought it would make a good video no doubt for social media). Monty leaves his container carefully as he would do because he’s been locked up in there for two months. Hall took Monty to a vet for a checkup because he did not know who owned the cat. Monty had a microchip and therefore they were able to locate Mrs Chapman and reunite them.

She was, as expected, overwhelmed with emotion. I suspect that she had given up seeing him again. The idea that a domestic cat can live off water which has condensed on the inside of the container is a theory which has been posited in the past. Clearly a cat has to have some access to water and food inside a container and the only source of water would be condensation but this begs the question where the water originally comes from.

Was it the water in the breath of the cat which condensed on the inside of the container? Or was it water inside the objects stored inside the container which evaporated and condensed on the inside walls? We don’t know but there has to be some original source of the water. Perhaps it is in the air outside and inside the container because of dampness and as the walls of the container are cold it condenses from gas into a liquid.

Living off insects is not particularly difficult for a domestic cat. Insects are part of the domestic cat’s prey list. However, I would have thought that there would have been very few spiders or other insects inside the container. It is remarkable that Monty survived so long on such a meagre diet.

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