Ziggy the cat used up at least one of his nine lives after surviving for 17 days without food on a 3700km voyage that took him from northern Israel to England.
The skinny white cat named after Ziggy Stardust – the character created by David Bowie in the 1970s, because like the rock star he has one green and one blue eye – made his epic trip as a stowaway in a container.
His journey began when he wandered into a consignment of plastic goods which were then sealed in Afula in Israel and shipped from Haifa on October 31.
It ended when he emerged, exhausted, starving and dehydrated, at a warehouse in Whitworth in Lancashire on Friday.
"When the container was finally opened, staff unloading it got a real surprise when this fluffy white cat shot out," said Colin Barton, the local authority's animal health officer who helped capture Ziggy.
"I think he had probably used up some of his nine lives."
The cat had not only survived but was able to resist capture for five hours.
"I think he was scared to death," said James Ratcliff, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). "He'd travelled all that way and got to a strange country and ran for his life."
Ziggy's background or owners remain a mystery as he had no collar or microchip, but the RSCPA believe he is someone's pet because he is so friendly. He will now stay in quarantine in Britain for six months as a precaution against rabies.