Sunday, 15 April 2012

Cat hitches a lift beneath car's bonnet

ROVING geriatric cat Muddy survived a 30-mile brush with death after becoming trapped in the engine of a car.
Unsuspecting Liz Ridgway heard mystery meows after returning home from a day on the road, and after she scoured the garage for a stray, her son Sam climbed under her Honda Civic and caught a glimpse of the adventurous furball.
He was unable to reach it, so firefighters had to come to the rescue by tearing apart bits of the vehicle. And when the shaken feline emerged, it turned out to be Muddy, the 16-year-old pet of Liz's neighbours.
The grey tabby is thought to have climbed up the car's wheels into the warm engine compartment on Wednesday morning and clocked up the miles as Liz drove from Elburton to Derriford and on to Yelverton.
Muddy's journey then took him from the Dartmoor town and into Plymouth city centre before he made his presence known just yards from his home.
Sam, a 20-year-old student, said his mum and brother Joe, 21, heard a meow as they reached the driveway of their home in The Hollows. "They were checking the garage for ages," he said. "I came out of the house and looked underneath the engine, and in this little gap I could see a bit of fur. That was when we realised a cat was stuck in there. I could just about see his face, but there was no way we could get to him."
Liz rang the local RSPCA, who were unable to help, so in desperation, she phoned the fire service. Plymstock firefighters came to the house around 6.45pm, jacked up the car, removed an inspection panel and, after 45 minutes, freed the confused but otherwise unharmed traveller.
Liz, 44, whose family only moved in a fortnight ago, called the number on Muddy's collar, unaware of where the pet had boarded. But his relieved owner, Neil Paterson, turned out to live just doors away.
Neil said the whole family were amazed to hear of Muddy's tale.
He said: "He's a lovely old cat, but he likes to spend quite a bit of time out of the house during the day. For all we know he could have been hitching lifts across Plymouth for years. We're very grateful for all Liz and the firefighters did to rescue Muddy."
A firefighter who worked on the rescue said: "It wasn't your normal job. Fortunately the cat managed to tuck itself up in a space in the engine compartment where it was safe."

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