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Kitten hijacks plane...
... a purrrrrrsonal view by Nick Mays

HERE’S AN amusing and rather salutary tale that I picked up for inclusion in our sister paper, OUR CATS. I think the good readers of OUR DOGS will appreciate story and its finer points!

Last week, the pilot of a Belgian aeroplane had to make an emergency landing after an aggressive kitten got into the cockpit.

The SN Brussels Airlines plane Flight 2905 was on its way from the Belgian capital to Vienna when the kitten got out of its box in the cabin.

A woman was travelling with a cat in a cage, in the cabin with her. The kitten, called Gin, escaped after the cage was somehow opened. Several passengers noticed the cat escape, but no one thought to alert the four air stewards, who were in the back of the plane preparing lunch.

When a stewardess brought meals to the cockpit, the kitten ran in and became aggressive when the co-pilot tried to catch it.

As a result, the captain decided to land the plane in Zaventem as "a precaution". The plane landed again at 1.39pm and its 57 passengers had to wait until 3.27pm before they could board another plane to Vienna.

Gin's owner and Gin weren't allowed to fly out until later in the evening.

An investigation was immediately launched into the incident. SN Brussels' flight crew apparently followed all the regulations governing animals on flights. Under international rules, only two animals can board a single flight and they must be caged.

It is still unclear how Gin escaped. His owner says she was asleep when it happened. A young boy was accused of letting the cat out, but he has denied any part in the escape.

Well, at least the kitten was captured safely and no one was hurt (although the co-pilot may well be on sick leave). Without wishing to underestimate the seriousness of an animal – even a kitten – at loose in an aircraft (and I happen to think the captain took the right decision in landing on the grounds of safety), can you imagine what the reaction would have been if it was a dog that escaped?

At the very least there’d be calls for a ban on dogs of whatever breed it was and of ‘similar breeds’, rather akin to the American Airlines breed ban fiasco of two years ago. Readers will recall that the airline banned a number of breeds as ‘dangerous’ on the say-so of the airline’s all-powerful insurers after an alleged ‘Pit Bull’ escaped from its crate in the hold of a domestic AA flight and caused damage to the hold. The breed ban was dropped some months later after intense lobbying by US dog enthusiasts.

I just can’t see a cat breed ban taking effect somehow…