Inside Logistics

Train cat’s owner may be found

Edmonton conductor sad but happy he may have found frozen kitty's owner

December 14, 2016
by Mary Jo Laforest THE CANADIAN PRESS

EDMONTON, Alberta —A conductor who saved and fell in love with a kitty that nearly froze to death under the engine of his train says he’s sad, but happy as well, that the cat’s owners may have been found.

Brad Slater, who works for Canadian National Railway, says a couple from Melville, Sask., contacted him Tuesday morning.

That’s where it’s believed the cat, who was covered in ice and missing part of its right ear, hopped underneath the train. Photos of the couple’s missing Tiger are a pretty close match, right down to its white back leg and lots of white under the neck and chest.

Slater says the couple are retired CN employees and the cat used to hang around the CN yard before the wife took him home in 2012 to be a companion animal to her husband, who was battling cancer at the time.

“As soon as I heard that, I broke down,” Slater says.

“At first, I wanted to keep denying it, trying to find reason it wasn’t him, but I was seeing they were similar between the ear, his back leg is white.”

Slater says the wife has booked a train trip to Edmonton on Friday to see if the feline, who he dubbed Q199 _ the train’s number _ is her Tiger.

Will he be sad to see his little buddy go?

“The answer to the question is ‘put myself in their shoes.’ I would want my cat back, right? You would, too.”

The rescue commenced around 5 a.m. Sunday as Slater was working on the train in frigid -35 C temperatures in Wainwright, Alta. He was checking the engine with his light when he heard a pathetic, tiny cry.

He spotted the tabby above the wheels on a steel platform covered with ice and snow.

Slater convinced the train’s engineer to let him bring the feline inside and wrapped him in one of his T-shirts to warm him up. He gently peeled the ice off the cat, fed it some beef jerky he had brought to work and gave it some water. The cat snuggled up against him all the way to Edmonton.

Slater and his wife took in Q199, even though they have three other pets, and it’s been a whirlwind of media interviews ever since.

He says if Q199 turns out to be Tiger, it will at least improve the mood of his other cats, who have been out of sorts at having an interloper in the house.

“Our cats are pretty messed right now, and that’s not fair to them, so I’m happy either way because I know he’ll be taken care of.”