Last Friday, Jackie Lake experienced a stomach-churning realization that no pet owner wants to make. Her beloved cat, Baloo, was missing.

Lake and her family spent the whole weekend searching the neighbourhood. They patrolled the nearby woods, peered under decks and knocked on dozens of doors. There was no sign of the cat.

“It was a horrible feeling,” Lake told CTV Atlantic.

That feeling lasted until Monday, when Lake received an unusual phone call. It was a woman calling from Purolator in Montreal.

“She paused and said, ‘So, you didn’t ship a cat?’” Lake recalled.

That’s when the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. Lake had recently packaged up several boxes filled with car tire rims. She taped up the boxes and shipped them via Purolator to a friend in Calgary.

“My first question was: Is he alive? Like, did I kill my cat?” she said.

No, Baloo was alive and well. The Purolator employee told her that a truck driver found the cat in the back of his vehicle. Baloo had somehow escaped the box.

Lake says her cat must have somehow managed to sneak into the box while she wasn’t looking, likely through a small opening in the top, and nestled into the hole of the rim.

“So he wasn’t on top, he had gotten in through the hole of the rim down into the bottom of the box,” she said.

Once Baloo was found, the shipping company reached out to the Montreal SPCA, which retrieved the cat.

“We were all extremely relieved that Balloo made it OK to Montreal, that he survived the trip,” said SPCA spokesperson Anita Kapuscinska.

Baloo, who is perfectly healthy, is now en route home thanks to Freedom Drivers, a volunteer-led organization that drives pets in need of travel.

Lake said she’s relieved to be getting her cat back in time for the holidays. But she doesn’t expect she’ll hear the end of it anytime soon.

“I’m never going to live it down,” she said.