The Hickory Aviation Museum in North Carolina, which is an open-air facility, has seen its fair share of natural elements and even bee infestations in its aircraft. But what they discovered in a T-33 Shooting Star from the Cold War era last month was genuinely unexpected.
“We’re used to nature’s surprises, but never did we expect to find a cat having given birth inside an airplane,” shared Buford Barnett, the museum’s general manager, with Daily Paws.
A wild cat, aptly named Phantom after the type of aircraft, had taken shelter in the old Shooting Star jet, where she birthed five kittens. Fortunately, she eventually led them out, and they’re now on their way to finding new homes. The museum realized they had feline guests when William Falls, a pilot and volunteer, kept hearing peculiar sounds from the plane. Using his camera, he snapped a photo inside the aircraft, revealing Phantom and a couple of her kittens.
A few days later, one of the kittens was amusingly seen seated in the plane’s cockpit, almost as if ready to fly. Catching the kittens inside the tight confines of the plane was a challenge, but with Phantom’s help, they soon emerged. The Humane Society of Catawba County stepped in to safely secure the kittens.
Barnett expressed his relief, given his concerns about potential threats like coyotes. Phantom, living up to her elusive name, managed to dodge capture for a few more days, even enjoying the trap’s bait without getting caught.
“Capturing her was quite the task. She enjoyed the treats we set but avoided the trap,” Barnett recalled.
With their early rescue, these kittens are on track to find permanent homes soon. The humane society is also looking for foster homes to help them adapt to domestic life before they’re adopted.