Ted the cat in 2007.

File/Tyler Arroyo

Ted the cat in 2007.

Steamboat Springs loses its most famous cat

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— Nobody can say Ted was an ordinary cat.

Ordinary cats don't become celebrities, get featured in magazines and take pleasure in sneaking aboard airplanes.

Ted did all that and more.

Many of the stories about Ted the airport cat end with a big laugh or a sense of disbelief.

Local flight instructor Scott Middleton's best story about Ted ends with both.

Middleton was flying to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few years ago when he was surprised to see the cat emerge from the luggage compartment of his airplane about halfway through the flight.

The cat had snuck aboard the plane back at his home at the Steamboat Springs Airport.

"It was too late to turn around," Middleton said Thursday as he recalled the antics of Ted.

And so, the adventurous cat was put up in a boarding facility in New Mexico for a few nights before he was flown back home.

Ted found other ways to travel to new places.

Pilot Bob Maddox's most memorable story about Ted ended with Maddox going to the Space Station in downtown Steamboat Springs at 11 p.m. to meet a woman in pajamas who had found Ted near Steamboat Ski Area.

It was thought that the cat had gotten into a car undetected for a stroll to the other side of town.

"He was a pretty good cat alright," Maddox said Thursday. "The thing I liked about Ted is he was like a dog in a cat's body. He was very friendly and outgoing and had an independent attitude. He wasn't judgmental."

The stories about the cat with a big personality go on and on.

Ted, Steamboat Springs' most famous cat, passed away this week after a battle with feline infectious peritonitis, an incurable disease.

He served as the Steamboat Springs Airport's ambassador for more than 10 years.

Ted's journey to the airport began in 2003 after he survived being shot in Oak Creek.

Jim Szabo brought Ted to the airport, and the cat started living in the Mountain Aircraft Maintenance hangar.

Maddox, a pilot for an air ambulance service, said Ted soon started to sneak into aircraft.

"He got to be part of our regular checklist to make sure he wasn't on the flight," Maddox said.

After spending years greeting planes at the airport and making new friends, Ted and his big personality achieved celebrity status here in Steamboat.

He was nominated to be featured in the Locals magazine in 2007.

"He has so much personality, it's unreal. Everybody knows him, and he knows everybody," then-FBO manager Don Heineman was quoted as saying in the feature about Ted. "And everybody takes care of him because he is pretty special to everyone."

The airport staff plans to have Ted cremated and have his ashes spread over the airport.

Airport Manager Chris Cole said there also will be a little memorial service for Ted at the FBO.

"Everybody knew him there at the airport," Middleton said. "The first thing they would say is 'Where is Ted?' He was pretty famous."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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