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Traveling Cat Flown Home to Family


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies


Grades 2-up

News Content

A cat that stowed away on a ship to Europe is back home in Wisconsin now.

News Words

Introduce these words from the News Word box on the students' printable page:

  • Wisconsin -- a state in the northern United States, bordered by Minnesota and Illinois (point out Wisconsin on a U.S. map)
  • Belgium -- a country in Europe, bordered by the North Sea and the countries of France, the Netherlands, and Germany (point out Belgium on a world map)
  • stowaway -- someone (or something, e.g., a cat) that hides in a plane, ship, or other vehicle to avoid paying the fare
  • quarantine -- when a person, animal, or plant is kept away from others to avoid the possibility of spreading disease
  • cargo -- freight carried by airplane, ship, or truck

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, point out the locations of Wisconsin and Belgium on a world map. Ask students to tell how they might travel from Wisconsin to Belgium. How long might such a trip take by different forms of transportation?

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Traveling Cat Flown Home to Family.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story:

  • Emily was found in France on October 24, which just happened to be her first birthday.
  • Emily was located in Nancy, France, which is in northeastern France; Nancy is about 215 miles east of Paris.
  • Emily's veterinarian thinks she might have survived by eating mice that often inhabit a ship's cargo hold.
  • At the reunion in Milwaukee, Lesley McElhiney, Emily's owner, said of the cat, "She seems a little calmer than she was before, just a little quieter, a little, maybe, wiser."
  • "We did not expect to get her back," Donny McElhiney, 37, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He told reporters that this was the second time Emily had taken off from home. The first time, she disappeared for about two weeks and turned up at a local animal shelter. This time, after Emily had been gone for more than three weeks, her family had given up hope of ever seeing her again. They just hoped that she was safe somewhere.
  • While in France, Emily was well cared for. During the cat's time in France, quarantine workers sent pictures of Emily to the McElhineys.

Comprehension Check

  • Where did Emily the cat live at the start of the story? (Appleton, Wisconsin)
  • How did Emily travel from Wisconsin to Belgium? (at first she traveled by truck, then by ship)
  • How were workers in France able to track down Emily's owner? (they contacted the veterinarian whose name appeared on the cat's collar tag)
  • Why did Emily need to be quarantined? (to make sure she was free of diseases)
  • How did Emily travel home from France to Wisconsin? (she traveled on an airplane)
  • About how many miles in all did Emily travel? (8,000 miles -- 4,000 from Wisconsin to France, and 4,000 back)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page. In addition, pose the following question to students:

  • How did Emily the cat get from Chicago to Belgium? The News for KIDS story states that she went by ship from Chicago. But Chicago is not on an ocean. Invite students to look at a U.S. map to figure out how Emily could have traveled by ship from Chicago to Belgium. (Chicago is located on the Mississippi River. The cargo container that Emily was in could have traveled down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, then on to Belgium.)

Follow-Up Activities

Sequencing. Write each of the ten statements below on a different tagboard card. Mix up the cards and hand one to each of ten students. Have the students arrange themselves so their cards tell in the correct sequence the story of Emily the Traveling Cat. 1. A cat named Emily wandered away from her owner's home. 2. Emily crawled into a cargo container full of paper at a company near her home. 3. A truck carried the cargo container from Wisconsin to Chicago. 4. The cargo container was placed on board a ship. 5. The ship sailed to Belgium. 6. Workers in France found a hungry cat inside a container. 7. A worker noticed that Emily was wearing a tag on her collar. 8. Emily's veterinarian helped track down her owner. 9. Emily was placed in quarantine to make sure she was healthy. 10. Emily flew home to Wisconsin by airplane. Geography. Provide students with a world outline map. Use a classroom U.S. map to help students pinpoint the location of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on their outline maps; do the same thing with the location of Paris, France. Have students draw a straight line between the two locations. Then have them use the WebFlyer MileMarker mileage calculator to learn the distance between

Charles De Gaulle International Airport, in Paris, France
General Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The MileMarker tool indicates that Emily's trip was about 4090 miles. Have students write 4090 miles on the line they drew on their maps to connect Paris and Milwaukee.
Next, have students draw a line between the following locations on their maps; then have them use the WebFlyer MileMarker tool to write the mileage between locations on the lines.
  • John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City, New York (USA) and Heathrow Airport in London (England) (Answer: 3440 miles)
  • O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois (USA) and Rome Airport in Rome, Italy (Answer: 4810 miles)
  • Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida (USA) and Brasilia International Airport in Brasilia, Brazil (South America) (Answer: 3610 miles)
  • Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California (USA) and Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden (Europe) (Answer: 5500 miles)
Technology and Math. Emily flew on Continental Airlines. Use the Continental Airlines Web site to learn how much it might cost to fly one way -- as Emily flew -- from Paris, France to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Our latest survey revealed fares from $2,309.00 to $3,476.00.) Then you might have students find the round-trip fare and learn the difference in cost between traveling one way and round trip.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.4 Human Systems

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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