Cat Found Alive After an Hour Underwater

A stowaway tortoiseshell cat managed to survive an hour under a boat on Lake Havasu. Meet River.


In a twist on a typical stowaway story, a tortoiseshell cat is believed to have hidden aboard a powerboat on Lake Havasu before it left port this past Saturday. The cat presumably tucked herself away in a front storage compartment to avoid detection. Unbeknownst to the cat, the open waters were rough that day, and the boat was quickly jostled by waves located north of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., near a sandbar. It is there that the boat filled with water – sinking to the bottom of Lake Havasu with the cat aboard.

The Mohave County Sherriff Department’s Search & Rescue team was made aware of the situation quickly, contacting Dive Time Recovery’s John Zucalla to assist with the recovery of the boat. Luckily, Zucalla and his son were already on the lake when he received the call, so recovery began almost immediately.

Once the vessel had been extracted, Zucalla transported the boat to a mechanic to have the engine flushed of water. During that process, the cat was found nestled in her compartment, and was quickly removed once portions of the boat’s upholstery were cut away.

“The cat was trapped, hungry, wet and scared,” Zucalla told The Havasu News. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I’ve never found a live animal on a sunken boat. She was down there for an hour – It’s miraculous that she survived.”

It is believed that the cat, now dubbed River by the Western Arizona Humane Society (WAHS), used an air pocket within the sunken ship, to obtain air until the boat was removed from the water, bolstering her chance of survival.

Although the boat’s owner, Genaro Rudaldava, was contacted, his family does not own a cat; therefore, it is unknown to whom River belongs. The fact that she isn’t microchipped makes locating her family even more difficult, but Western Arizona Humane Society workers are hopeful that someone will come forward.

“When she first came in, she was very scared,” said WAHS employee Tasha Draper. “Now she’s started to open up. She got very lucky.”

River, who was uninjured when found, has been at the WAHS Intake Center since Monday morning. Her owners have five days to claim her before she is transferred to the WAHS adoption center where she will be placed up for adoption.

“This is a miracle – that we were on the lake when the Sheriff’s Department called us, and we found the wreck in time,” Zucalla said.

Here’s to hoping that River the Miracle Kitty finds her family soon!

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