If I told you that members of Britain’s Royal Navy were recently responsible for saving a cat, you’d probably assume that the mission involved a daring water-based rescue, right? Maybe the officers chanced across one of those elusive pirate cats who’d become lost at sea? Or perhaps it was a case of trawling full steam ahead to assist a cat who likes to surf?
Well, this particular case involved a landlubber of a kitten who ended up journeying over 300 miles inside the bumper of a car owned by a Royal Navy helicopter pilot.
As an official missive from the Royal Navy explains, the kitten, who picked up the name Tigger, ended up enduring “a day’s journey from Birmingham Airport to the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose near Helston in Cornwall, clinging to the rear bumper of Lieutenant Nick Grimmer’s BMW.”
A day after making the long-haul trip, Nick says he heard what’s been described as “very quiet meowing” coming from the back of his fancy car. At that point, the member of the Flying Tigers squadron started a heroic investigation.
“I looked in the boot, under the bonnet, and climbed all over and under it and still couldn’t find what was making the noise,” he says. “I called up some of our air engineers who came and helped me to start dismantling my pride and joy.
“On taking off the rear bumper we were greeted by a tiny tiger-striped kitten.”
Against many odds, Tigger emerged unscathed — if a little shook up at his unplanned cross-country trip.
After taking Tigger with him to work, Nick discovered that this plucky little furball likes nothing more than to nap inside the helmet he wears while he’s up in the air.
It was also at Royal Navy HQ that Tigger was given his new name, which is said to be inspired by the fact that his fur markings are similar to those of some of the gray-and-white helicopters currently in service.
While he’s happily adjusting to life in the navy, an effort has also been launched to track down Tigger’s original owners.
According to Commander Brendan Spoors, “We are more than happy to adopt Tigger as a mascot; after all it’s a tradition for Royal Naval units to have a ship’s cat.
“[But] Tigger must have an owner somewhere between here and Birmingham, and we are keen to locate them.”
To that end, the Flying Tigers squadron has been instructed to officially launch Operation Tiger Kitten — an initiative that aims to use the hashtag #OperationTigerKitten to trace Tigger’s first family through social media channels. Although at the time of writing, most comments seem to be offers to — ahem — “adopt” helicopter pilot Nick rather than Tigger.
You can do your bit for the cause by keeping up to date with Tigger’s story at the Royal Navy’s Facebook feed.