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How I Spent my Morning

Jenny in Florida

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Just in case there are others like me who get really invested in animal-related stuff and who maybe aren't up to any additional stress today, I'll preface this by saying the story does have a happy ending.


I left my house shortly after 8:00 to head to work. As I got in the car, I thought I heard a cat meowing, so I got out and checked behind and under the car. (We have a ton of stray and feral cats in this neighborhood.) I didn't see anyone around, got back in the car and backed out of the driveway. I turned on my podcast and went on my way.


At a stoplight about 1.5 miles from the house, I again thought I heard something meowing, and it sounded like it was coming from the front of the car. I pulled into a nearby parking lot, with the meowing getting louder and more frantic the whole time.


I checked on top of the car and under it again, then popped the hood.


Now,  I don't know if anyone remembers, but it was just a couple of months ago that I was driving this same car when it lost its mind and started screaming at me. So, I was, I think understandably, really unsure what to think about what sounded for all the world like cat sounds coming out of the engine compartment of the same car.


However, the sounds kept coming, and I felt really certain it was a cat. I checked in all of the nooks and crannies of the engine compartment that were at all accessible and couldn't see anything fuzzy.


In a panic, I called my husband at work and asked if he thought it was crazy to call roadside assistance because there might be a cat in the engine compartment. He said:


1. He was leaving work immediately and would be there as soon as he could.

2. Call roadside assistance.


My husband arrived before the Pop-a-Lock guy did, and I ran into the drug store whose parking lot we were in to buy a flashlight and some cat food. We then took turns crawling as far under the car as we could manage, waving cat food around and using the flashlight to look in the engine compartment. My husband also called our vet to ask if they had ever heard of this and, if so, if they had any suggestions. They said to try the cat food thing and, if all else failed, that we could call either animal control or the police non-emergency number. 


The meowing continued for a good 45 minutes after my husband arrived. But, by the time the Pop-a-Lock guy got there (he was delayed in traffic behind an accident), we were no longer hearing anything. He used his jack to raise one side of the car so we could get a better look underneath, and he/we took covers off of various components inside the engine compartment, any place we thought could reasonably accomodate a cat. He spent about 45 minutes with us helping us to look, but there was not a peep as long as he was there.


I then called my mechanic to ask if he had ever dealt with this and if he had any suggestions where, in this particular model of car, an animal might hide. He said he had seen it -- had, in fact, ended up adding a cat to his family as a result of a similar situation -- and that, if I could get the car to him, he'd be happy to open up the most likely hiding spots for me. He did warn me that these things often do not end well.


By this point, I was very much afraid that the cat might have been injured and, since it had been such a long time since we'd heard from it, that it would be too late to help it. However, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stand driving the car until I at least knew for sure there wasn't anything I could do. I called roadside assistance again and specifically requested a flatbed tow truck to carry the car to the mechanic.


They quoted me a wait of about 90 minutes.


My husband and I continued to keep watch on both sides of the car, so we would at least know if the cat dislodged itself and took off. 




I was leaning on the front of the car just kind of staring disconsolately into the engine compartment, when I thought I heard another faint meow. I called my husband over, and we both listened. Nothing at first, and then we both heard it again. This time, we were both sure the sound was coming from the passenger side of the car, very near the front bumper. My husband again crawled under the car, and suddenly a little black and white kitten head popped up for a second. 


Now that we knew where to look, I was able to shine the flashlight in the right place and locate what turned out to be a kitten. He was huddled in an empty space between the passenger-side wheel well and the headlight. I spent the next 20 minutes feeding him wet cat food off a straw I happened to have in the car through the front grill while my husband used a wrench our son had left in the car to take off every bolt he could and get access from underneath.


Finally, we managed to get hold of a very tiny and terrified, but adorable and apparently unharmed, black and white kitten.


We popped him into a small shipping box I had left over from a recent care package I had been assembling to send our daughter and drove him to the nearest vet. 


The estimate is that he is probably just about eight weeks old, likely feral, slightly underweight and pretty filthy, but otherwise healthy.


He may or may not have bitten my husband during the extraction. (There are some marks/cuts on my husband's hands, but we don't know whether they are just scrapes from the car or bites/scratches from the kitten.) So, the vet has advised us to hold onto the kitty for at least 10 days until we verify neither he nor my husband has rabies.


He is now ensconced in the master bathroom with food, water and a tiny makeshift little box.


My husband has taken a muscle relaxer and is ensconsed in his comfy recliner attempting to recover from crawling all over the Walgreens parking lot.


My car is at the shop, waiting for the mechanic to try and figure out how to put back together the parts we ripped off in order to rescue the cat.


And, while our first choice would be to find a good home to adopt him out to -- given that we already have a 10-year-old cat who hates everyone and a dog -- it's entirely possible that we may end up adding a new kitten to the family.





Edited by Jenny in Florida
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So glad it had a happy ending! I hope it's not too expensive to fix your car.


I lucked into finding a wonderful mechanic several months ago -- actually as a result of the "my car is screaming at me" episode. He told me over the phone that he wouldn't charge me for getting the cat out if I could just get the car to him. I did ask him to take a look at something else while they happen to be reassembling the stuff on the front today, but I doubt it will cost much.

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We added a third cat to our family two years ago after a similar incident! In our case, it was a friend who found the kitten and brought him to co-op! I talked my husband into adopting him, and we named him Raphael (nickname: Raffi) since we were studying the Renaissance at the time. He's huge now, and takes especial pleasure from sitting on someone's school work every darn day. 



Edited by Zuzu822
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That is an awesome story.


My SIL's cat met her demise in this fashion, I'm sorry to report. The cat was deaf and crawled into the engine of the car where she was killed.

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