September 1, 2012 7:32:50 PM
LOS ANGELES -- A stowaway kitten who survived a three-week ocean voyage from China to California trapped in a storage container without food or water has found a new home.
Los Angeles County animal control officials said Friday that the cat, which has been named Ni Hao (NEE' how) or "hello" in Chinese, will leave the animal hospital he's called home since turning up in the U.S. last month to start life next week with a family in the LA suburb of Redondo Beach.
The family has not been further identified, but officials say it was chosen from more than 80 serious candidates who applied to adopt the stowaway.
The now 5-month-old kitten was found July 11.
It couldn't walk, see, or make any sounds.
An officer said the kitten had shallow breathing and was "curled up in a ball with his eyes shut," said animal control official Aaron Reyes.
"And he actually appeared deceased," he added said.
The cat was rushed to a care center where veterinarians say he has thrived.
The only lingering sign of trauma is a limp, which Reyes describes as "his own strut."
The kitten suffered considerable muscle atrophy on the journey, causing him to walk with a ginger, unusual gait, Reyes said.
Ni Hao is "still a bit wobbly" and "may end up being a special needs kitty for life," said Reyes, deputy director of the county's animal control department.
But, Reyes said, "he's gone from this shriveled up little kitten with shallow breathing and knocking on death's door to this curious, playful, bouncy, affectionate, patient, little furry kitty."
Ni Hao created a media buzz while at the center. Dozens of news outlets from all over the globe have visited. At one time, there were so many requests, the shelter set up a media day to handle them all.
County shelter workers have a couple of theories to explain how Ni Hao survived, Reyes said. They think he ate or drank something just before wandering into the container, he said, or "he is so young his resilience is off the charts."