(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A 3-week-old kitten survived a 1,000-mile trip across two states inside the engine of a Honda Fit and is expected to make a full recovery.
“I was concerned about this kitten because it had been in the car engine for two to three days,” Julia Di Sieno, executive director and co-founder of Animal Rescue Team, Inc., told ABC News. “I put on latex gloves, and I managed to get my hands in there until I had a little kitten and wiggled it through.”
Late last week, an owner of a silver Honda Fit heard meowing coming from her car before a journey from Oregon to Santa Barbara, Calif., Di Sieno said.
“She heard the kitten crying before she departed and there was nothing she could do. She tried to find the kitten,” said Di Sieno. “So they continued on their journey, driving south.”
The next day, Di Sieno received a call from the car owner with concerns that a kitten was trapped somewhere inside her car. Di Sieno was as much as 45 miles away, so she asked the car owner to call the Santa Barbara police department and request that they summon animal control.
“Animal control was dispatched, an officer showed up, and he thought perhaps the kitten was no longer in the compartment,” Di Sieno said.
That afternoon, Di Sieno received a second phone call from the owner saying there were still cries from a cat inside the engine compartment.
“I had to go do something,” Di Sieno said.
Di Sieno arrived at the scene and had a difficult time locating the cat. After assessing the situation, she decided to call a tow truck for some extra help.
“They needed to get underneath the car to find it,” Chuck Love of Love’s Towing told ABC News. “We lifted up the car, and she still couldn’t find it.”
With Love holding a flashlight and Di Sieno feeling around for the kitten, the duo spotted the scared feline shifting around the engine. Di Sieno was able to use a “jab stick” to administer sedation, and finally was able to get the kitten to an accessible spot.
“It took a half an hour, at least, to get it out, and after getting it out it was so cute and so small,” said Love. “Lucky it was small, because then [otherwise] we wouldn’t have been able to get it out. Of course, if it wasn’t that small it would’ve never been able to get in there.”
The short-haired, grey, male kitten meowed as it was pulled out of the engine in frail condition. Di Sieno took him home, started immediate care and found the 3- to 4-week-old kitten was dehydrated and had an infected eye. Now just a couple of a days later, the kitten is recovering and expected to make a full recovery.
“He is very tame now, purring, and finally eating. We’ve been treating him with antibiotics,” said Di Sieno.
Di Sieno has been saving animals for more than 29 years at Animal Rescue Team, Inc., sustained solely by donations. She’s rescued lions, bears and other large mammals, but she said this was the first time she’s rescued a kitten from an engine.
“It was refreshing for me because I’m passionate about this work and saving animals,” she said. “The moment I pulled him up, it was so exhilarating.”
She added that, for a lost kitten, an engine is a perfect small, tight compartment to seek warmth, especially if it was in a climate such as Oregon.
Di Sieno said she couldn’t have done the rescue without Love’s help.
She said she appreciated “having someone step up like that without asking for money. … He was determined to help me and get that cat out of that engine. I thought we’d name him ‘Love’ for now.”
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