Tag: orange tabby

TSA Baggage Scan Reveals Kitty Stowaway In Luggage

It was a tuft of orange hair poking out from the zipper of a carry-on suitcase that first alerted a TSA agent that something weird was going on.

The agent, who was processing a traveler departing from New York’s JFK airport on Tuesday morning, then consulted an x-ray scan, confirming the suitcase contained some unusual cargo — a ginger tabby cat tucked in among toiletries, snug and napping comfortably in the enclosed space.

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An x-ray scan revealed Smells tucked snugly into the suitcase. Credit: TSA
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The incriminatory tuft of orange hair that gave away Smells’ hiding spot. Credit: TSA

As for the traveler, the cat didn’t belong to him, nor was he aware kitty had climbed inside. It turned out he had been a house guest of friends living in Brooklyn, and the cat named Smells had slipped into the luggage before he left for home, for what is a suitcase if not just another box?

The TSA confirmed the story with the cat’s owner before letting the traveler board his Florida-bound flight.

“An officer called and asked if I wanted to press charges” said Alix, Smells’ 37-year-old human. “He wanted to know if there was any reason [the passenger] was trying to steal my cat and go to Florida.”

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A TSA security agent opens the suitcase to reveal its unauthorized would-be stowaway. Credit: TSA

After Alix assured the TSA agent that Smells “really likes to check out boxes” and definitely would have climbed in on his own, she hired a driver to retrieve the kitty, who was unperturbed by the adventure.

“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” Alix told the New York Post. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

As for the TSA — which often deals with more serious finds like guns and drugs secreted into passengers’ luggage — the saga of Smells was a welcome change that gave them a good story and some laughs.

“On the bright side,” TSA spokesman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter, “the cat’s out of the bag and safely back home.”

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Smells the cat. Credit: His humans
“I was worried he’d be freaked out but he wasn’t even meowing on the way back,” she said. “I went to give him some extra treats and he acted like nothing had happened.”

You Can Now Play Stray As Your Own Cat And As Garfield Thanks To Mods

More news in the world of Stray, the play-as-a-cat video game that’s taken the world by storm with rave reviews, plenty of memes and hilarious videos of real cats reacting to their humans playing the game.

Thanks to players who create custom game mods, short for modifications, Stray players can now replace the game’s ginger tabby protagonist with cats of their choosing. Currently there are mods that make the title cat a Siamese, a black cat with yellow eyes, a white cat with heterochromia (different color eyes), a tuxedo and a Calico, among others.

The most popular mod, dubbed Pick of the Litter, features many different coat colors and patterns that users can select and switch between.

There are currently at least two gray tabby mods, but neither of them match Buddy’s chubby incredibly muscular physique.

One modder is taking commissions from gamers and creating custom cat avatars based on photographs, so if a player’s cat has a unique color or pattern — or you just want something more accurate — they have that option. Perhaps we’ll inquire if it’s possible to add huge meowscles as well as edit coat patterns and colors.

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Gray tabby mod: Clearly not meowscular enough to be Buddy.

Other mods allow players to substitute a dog as the protagonist (come on, now…), add snazzy spectacles to the kitty, and tweak graphics settings for greater photorealism.

Finally, if you’re a fan of a certain lasagna-loving cartoon cat, you’re in luck: He’s now in the game thanks to the efforts of one dedicated fan, and he’s as lazy and heavy-lidded as he’s always been.

It should be noted that mods are unique to the PC, which is an open platform. If you’re playing the game on a Playstation 4 or 5, you’re out of luck.

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Garfield in Stray: Maybe you can feed him lasagna to restore his health?

Stray: Early Impressions, Plus Real World Cats Benefit From The Game’s Launch!

Stray is the real deal. The game is beautifully atmospheric and slipping into its world feels effortless.

The adventure begins amid beautiful urban decay, with the titular feline and his family of three other moggies waking from a nap on the ledge of a concrete reservoir in the process of being reclaimed by Mother Nature. Tangles of branches and leaves push through the crumbling man-made structure everywhere, creating canopies, waterfalls and pools, and our hero and his buddies navigate their idyllic home in perfectly cat-like manner, leaping up, dropping down and pausing to lap water from reservoirs of running water.

The game gets you started with a few classics from the feline repertoire. You can walk, run, leap, hop up and, perhaps most importantly, meow by pressing the Alt key. A general interactive key allows you to sidle up to your feline friends for some head bunting and allogrooming, and the furry family members purr at each other in appreciation.

But things don’t remain idyllic, of course, because this is an adventure.

Our cat, an adorable ginger tabby, is separated from his tribe when he follows them across a chasm via a rusty pipe and the metal gives way.

It’s an enormous credit to the animators that they’re able to convincingly convey the panic and fear on kitty’s face as he tries to stop his fall, clawing at the edge futilely until he takes a nasty tumble onto hard concrete a few hundred feet below. Conveying authentic emotion on the faces of human characters is challenging, but doing it with a non-anthropomorphized animal is another thing entirely.

When you land, you can hear the distressed cries of your fur friends far above but can no longer see them, and your cat is injured: He limps along on three legs through a dimly lit sewer before passing out from his injuries.

An indeterminate time later he awakes, sniffs out a cat-size path of egress from the sewer and finds himself in the neon-tinted Walled City of Kowloon in an alternate future. (The real Kowloon Walled City, infamous for its urban density and its status as a hub for Hong Kong’s triad gangs, was demolished in 1994. It’s now a park.)

There’s so much that could go wrong with a game like this. It features a radical shift in perspective, putting players closer to the ground than they’re accustomed to and in the paws of an animal who isn’t particularly well-represented among game protagonists. Animating a feline is an enormous challenge, and cats have their own version of the uncanny valley: The slightest mistake in the rhythm of a moggie’s gait, for example, can throw the whole thing off, rendering the character unnatural. (See the wacky gallops of Assassin’s Creed’s horses, for example, or pretty much any third-person game in which a human character can run. More than two decades into making modern third-person games, developers still have trouble animating human running sequences that don’t look broken or comical.)

The care that went into animating kitty is evident, as is the work that went into controlling him feel effortless and instinctive. There’s no adjustment period here. From the first moment moving like a cat feels like second nature.

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We’ll have more on the gameplay and story as we spend more time in Stray’s world. So far, the game gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from Buddy the Cat and me, his humble human servant.

In the meantime, as Stray sets sales records for an indie game and continues to generate incredible buzz on social media, publisher Annapurna Interactive is using the opportunity to help real life kitties, including a game code giveaway with the Nebraska Humane Society that netted more than $7,000 in donations.

Stray is blowing up online as well, with users publishing more than half a million tweets about the game within a day of its release, per CBS Marketwatch.

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Stray: The Buddies Are Locked And Loaded

I bought my copy of Stray and I’m all ready for when it goes live at noon on Wednesday. I expect Buddy will find his place on my shoulder, drawn by the meows of the game’s protagonist, and perhaps even “attack” enemies on screen like he’s done in the past.

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In the meantime, Stray has become Steam’s most-wishlisted game. Steam is by far the most popular digital platform for PC players, so reaching the top is quite an achievement for an indie studio. Stray is also an exclusive launch on Playstation, so XBox players will miss out on this one for the time being. (Sorry, dudes.)

Early reviews are in, with a developing consensus that Stray provides a refreshing change in perspective for the adventure game format. Some are even calling it one of the best games of the year, which is great news: The history of gaming is full of titles that looked amazing in previews and generated incredible hype only to fall flat when players finally got to experience them.

Of course we’ll have our own review here on PITB, and we’ve been looking forward to this game for years now, so I don’t want to go in with too many preconceived notions.

I can’t wait to jump into the paws of the game’s furry protagonist and experience the eerie future Hong Kong for myself.

If you can’t get enough Stray in the meantime, the developers have written a blog post introducing the world to Murtaugh, the real-life inspiration for the game’s feline protagonist. Murtaugh was rescued from under a car near Montpellier, France, he’s one of two cats who count studio founders Viv and Koola as their human servants, and he’s known as “The Boss” to the development team.

“Even though the character in the game is not a direct reproduction of Murtaugh, he was definitely a huge inspiration for its appearance and was a great support during the whole development,” Stray producer Swann Martin-Raget wrote.

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Main character animator Miko also looked to Oscar, a Sphynx, when trying to capture the grace of feline movements. Oscar’s lack of fur allowed Miko to see his underlying musculature work as he went about the daily business of being a cat.

“Oscar is a Sphynx who comes to work with us at the studio almost everyday and was super helpful when Miko needed to have actual video reference of some jumps and runs,” Martin-Raget wrote. “Animating a quadruped is already quite challenging but the subtleties of a cat’s movements are incredibly precise and hard to convey properly.”

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And finally there’s Jun, whose official title is executive chief general president commander director officer at the studio. Jun was responsible for supervising the humans working on the game, and of course, napping:

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Someone Has To Rescue This Poor Cat

A real estate agent in Texas was filming video for his TikTok channel, sarcastically providing a voice-over in which he promises a “look at the beauty of rental houses when the tenants move out.”

As the agent, who goes by the name Felix Jaimes on TikTok, showed broken blinds, inexplicably removed wood floor panels, a cracked mirror, dirty bathroom and garbage left everywhere. Then he heard noise coming from another room.

“Honestly I got scared, I thought someone was in there because the house was pretty much empty,” Jaimes explained later in the comments.

But he didn’t find a burglar — just a terrified, depressed-looking cat huddling in the corner of a closet.

“He was obviously scared,” Jaimes wrote. “My heart broke” for him.

“Immediately I thought they left their cat behind. What kind of people do that,” Jaimes asked. “I thought they had just abandoned the place since they destroyed it.”

After calling and sending text messages to the tenant, she called Jaimes back and said she wasn’t finished moving out.

“When I came back, the cat was gone,” Jaimes said.

The video was posted on Dec. 7. It’s not clear from Jaimes’ profile exactly where he is — or where the home is located — in Texas, but perhaps some sharp-eyed Texan will be able to tell from the exterior shots at the beginning of the video.

Regardless, the video is distressing. It seems to me that organizations like county-level SPCAs — which employ animal welfare officers with law enforcement jurisdiction when it comes to animal abuse and welfare investigations — are made to handle cases like this, not just the “saving 50 cats from a hoarding situation” stories we hear all the time.

At the very least, the SPCA’s law enforcement division should locate the owner, interview her, check on the cat and have him brought in for a veterinary exam. If they don’t like what they see, they should confiscate the cat and take extra care to place him with people who know how to treat cats and will give him the love he deserves.

Maybe everything really is on the up-and-up and just looks bad, but someone who really knows cats — and loves them — would never leave their kitty in an empty apartment, cowering in a closet and believing he’s been abandoned. That’s why it should be investigated. Better safe than sorry.