A stowaway cat who was found in a container that arrived from China at the Chennai port on 17 February has finally been released to The Cattitude Trust. PETA India had been appealing for the animal’s release for three months, with support from MP Maneka Gandhi, co-founder of Blue Cross of India Dr Chinny Krishna, and The Cattitude Trust. On 19 April, the central government advised the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services (AQCS) of Chennai to hand over the cat, upon completion of a 30-day quarantine period. The Tamil Nadu Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Department also facilitated the process of freeing the feline. After hearing about the cat’s plight, Sonam K Ahuja, Sunny Leone, Pooja Bhatt, Priyamani Raj, Rahul Khanna, and Ashmit Patel tweeted to call for her release.
The cat had been facing deportation to China, because of legal hurdles and ignorance regarding how the novel coronavirus is transmitted. PETA India’s manager of veterinary services, Dr Rashmi Gokhale, wrote to AQCS Chennai stating that PETA India was willing to foster the animal until she was adopted into a caring home. Dr Gokhale also fired off a letter to the Chennai Customs Zone, stating that humans are not at risk of catching COVID-19 from cats.
Right to Information (RTI) response received from the AQCS on 27 April stated that as per the 19 March directions of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, “the cat will be handed over to the owner after successful completion of the quarantine period of 30 days or the relevant testing whichever is later as per the letter issued by the Ministry mentioned above”.
Chennai customs officials handed the cat over to The Cattitude Trust yesterday. She is now safe with an organisation that has actively been working in Chennai since 2005 to help community cats. The cat is a healthy, neutered female with a dark brown tabby coat and distinct white paws.