A Scots engineer had an unexpected passenger on his 100-mile sea trip to the Inner Hebrides when his neighbour’s cat snuck into his van.
Doug Craig said he got the “fright of his life” when sneaky cat Tia was found hiding at the back of his work van.
Mr Craig, who works for Openreach, loaded up his van at 4am in Oban to board the three-hour ferry to Arinagour in the Inner Hebrides.
The 31-year-old was carrying out emergency work to fix the broadband connection at the island’s fire station and didn’t spot his surprise feline guest until hours later.
Doug sent a message to his mum back in Oban to let his neighbours Elyse and Martin Hamilton know where adventurous Tia had gone.
The family have two children Stanley, seven, and five-year-old Beatrix who Mr Craig didn’t want to worry.
He then made a quick dash to the island’s general store for tuna and biscuits to keep Tia from going hungry.
The next ferry wasn’t until the following day so Tia snuggled up in the back of the van while Mr Craig slept in a tent under the stars.
He said: “It was a last minute trip due to an urgent data fault at the voluntary fire station on Coll. I was working for a few hours before I realised Tia was there.
“I’d noticed my tool bag was all hairy and thought it was really odd. I got the fright of my life when I saw two eyes shining out from the back of the van.
“At first I thought a Coll cat had sneaked in but then I got a closer look and recognised her from home. I thought ‘Oh no, I’ve cat-napped my neighbours’ pet!’
“I’ve heard of other curious cats climbing into colleagues’ vans on occasion – but I’ve never heard of one that went to sea on a 100-mile round trip.”
Cat owner Elyse, a home economics teacher, said: “Tia can be quite shy and independent and it wasn’t until Doug’s mum knocked on the door we actually realised she was missing.
“She’s snuck off for wee excursions in others cars before – and even gone to work with Martin – but taking a holiday to Coll is wildly adventurous, even for her!
“Thankfully she was too timid to come out of the van and go exploring. Needless to say we were delighted to get her back safe and sound.
“We’re beyond grateful to Doug for taking such good care of her – as I was trying to fathom how we would manage a trip to Coll to bring her home.
“We’re hoping she’s had quite enough adventures for a while, although she seems to have really warmed up to Doug and we could see her trying it again to get spoiled!”
Mr Craig, a former postie, keeps people connected across a rural patch that also includes the Inner Hebridean islands of Tiree, Mull and Colonsay.