Just days after Balloon Boy captivated the world with his imaginary flight of fancy, a stray cat in Winnipeg, MB, allegedly found its way aboard a homemade rocket and was propelled over 15,000 feet into the sky.
“We thought Mr. Jingle Tummy was cruising into space,” said Jim Sinkler, the rocket’s chief engineer. “First cat in space! That was my hope. Yeah, he would have froze up there, but still. He didn’t do much around here but eat old nuts and from drink urine puddles in the alley behind the bar.”
A ragtag group of amateur engineers, led by Sinkler, launched the space vessel from a field across from Frozen Pete’s Bar, where Mr. Jingle Tummy hangs out near the back door. “I admit, we launched that rocket probably having drank way too many beers. So after, we went to celebrate with Mr. JT, as we call him, but we couldn’t find him anywhere,” Sinkler said. “We immediately called the Mounties to rescue him, ’cause we were sure he must have been on that rocket.”
Mounties responded to the scene and were met with a sea of news trucks and curious onlookers. A helicopter was dispatched, and emergency plans were being crafted to rescue the cat before the rocket plummeted to earth in a blazing fireball. News outlets worldwide covered the story live.
The rocket, just two feet long and about eight inches in diameter, was being used by Sinkler and his drunken friends as a makeshift missile, poised to crash into Big Bald Eddie’s house, who Sinkler contends owes him $50.
Authorities and news media did not bother to ask Sinkler whether a cat could somehow enter the tiny rocket or become affixed to its outer façade.
“Now that I think about it, that rocket couldn’t hold a mouse,” said Orenthal James Timpton, a friend of Sinkler. “Mr. JT is probably one of the fattest cats I’ve ever seen. Just the other day, that bastard tried to get in the dumpster outside the bar. He struggled for at least an hour. There was some good beer nuts in there that day. I know ’cause I went and snatched them after Mr. JT left.”
The media has come under scrutiny for running with the story, which dominated airwaves for over 16 hours last week, without properly vetting the facts.
“There were numerous reporting errors,” said Mark Powers, editor of The Manitober, the area’s seventh largest local pamphlet. “But man, the perspective from the helicopter shot made the rocket look really big.”
“We worked under the assumption that this was some kind of big, NASA-sized rocket for at least the first 10 hours. After that, we thought it was about the size of that Richard Branson, Virgin Megastore guy, spaceship crap he’s into. Finally, after the thing crashed into Big Bald Eddie’s place, we realized it was a toy from a hobby shop. I suppose we could have just asked Mr. Sinkler how big it was from the get go, but that might have taken away from the drama.”
Mr. Jingle Tummy is now facing criminal investigation for perpetuating the costly hoax. The feline once appeared in an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos as “Cat Who Chases Fake Mouse on String and Hits Man in Crotch” and wanted to break into Hollywood.
Friends say he hoped to star in a sequel to the family-fun comedy Homeward Bound, in which he would appear as a love interest for Sally Field’s Sassy, the female cat lead.