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Kitten Survives 85-Mile Road Trip Under Van's Hood

An 8-month-old cat is lucky she didn't leave her heart -- or anything else, for that matter -- in San Francisco.

 |  Mar 23rd 2012  |   4 Contributions


When a Michigan man stopped for gas in Santa Cruz, California, he heard a strange noise emanating from his van's engine compartment.

It wasn't the death rattle of an exhausted motor. Nor was it the whining of loose belts or the clackety-clack of a failing CV joint. Nope … it was a desperate mew for help.

The man opened the hood, and found a terrified brown tabby. He asked a gas station attendant to call whoever takes care of stray animals, and shortly thereafter, the kitten -- who, miraculously, survived her unplanned voyage without injury -- was in the care of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

Animal Control Officer George DeLeon holds the young cat found under the hood of a van when a man stopped for gas in Santa Cruz, California. Photo by Jon Weiand of the Santa Cruz Sentinel

When the man explained that he'd been driving nonstop since Mill Valley, a town in Marin County just north of San Francisco, the story took an interesting turn.

It seems the cat had stowed away in the van's engine compartment while the man took a sleep break in a McDonald's parking lot, and didn't get out before the next leg of the road trip began.

It's pretty clear that the cat has a home: she was found wearing a blue studded collar with a tiny blue bell. But since she doesn't have tags or a microchip, animal control authorities were at a loss as to how to locate her caretaker.

Animal shelter workers called the Marin Humane Society and told the story of the feline stowaway. They're hoping to get a call from a person missing a tabby kitten with a blue collar.

"She's a really sweet cat. Hopefully someone in Marin can come get her," said Santa Cruz Animal Shelter spokesman Todd Stousy. "It was a long ride."

A video of the kitten shows the truth of her outgoing and friendly disposition. She can be seen rubbing and climbing all over Animal Control Officer George DeLeon:


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

Maybe all this publicity will help reunite cat and caretaker. After the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported the story on Wednesday, it was picked up by a Bay Area TV station, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press.Stousy asks anyone with information about the cat to call the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter at 831-454-7200.

And the moral of the story is: If you stop your vehicle and leave it parked for any length of time, please bang on the hood to make sure you don't have an extra passenger. Most of these incidents don't have such happy endings.

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