At first, Dean Herigstad thought he must be hearing things.

At first, Dean Herigstad thought he must be hearing things.

The warehouse manager at PODS in White City kept hearing a faint "meow" Monday coming from one of the 16-foot shipping containers that had arrived Friday from Tucson, Ariz., 1,178 miles away.

A cat? Inside one of these giant boxes? Impossible, thought Herigstad. But he started searching. He narrowed it down to a container way in the back of the warehouse on Antelope Road. Like all the containers, it was padlocked by the owners, who were moving their belongings from Mesa, Ariz., to Grants Pass.

Herigstad said company logs showed the container had been locked June 3 for its journey to Oregon.

Herigstad called the Phoenix office, which in turn called the container's owners, who gave Herigstad permission to cut the lock. Now the meowing was getting louder. Herigstad dug through all the furniture to the very back of the container and, sure enough, there was one very skinny, thirsty, starved and scared calico cat, wearing a pink collar.

A surprised Herigstad took the adult cat into his office, got it water and rushed off to buy cat food. The feline, whom Herigstad named Lucky, wolfed down the food and quickly adopted her rescuer, happily rubbing against his legs.

"She obviously belongs to someone back in Arizona, and we're trying to find out who," Herigstad, 48, a Central Point resident, said Monday. "She cries like a cat in distress. She's a little wobbly still. If we can't find the owners, my mom said she might take her."

Herigstad didn't know how the cat had survived what may well have been 27 days in the container. He didn't see any food or water, he said.

Herigstad brought the animal out into the sunny open bay of the warehouse and she reacted with fear at the sight of rows of containers, but stayed in his arms.

"She's tame and has really taken a liking to me," he said with a smile. "You'd think she would be freaked out after that trip, but she's not. I hate to come in this office because she bugs me so much and her claws have gotten real long inside that container since it was locked and loaded on our flatbed June 3."

At various stops, the container was parked inside warehouses, not left in the searing sun of Southern California, he said, "or that cat would have been toast for sure. That saved its bacon."

Lucky's not the first cat to survive a long trip in a shipping container. In 2007, another calico named Spice spent nearly three weeks in a container crossing the Pacific from Hawaii to Los Angeles without food or water, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, Herigstad learned Lucky did, indeed, belong to the owners of the container who thought the cat had disappeared. They will pick her up after the Fourth of July, he said.

Until then, Lucky will be staying with Herigstad, no doubt happily getting in his way.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at