"Miracle" Kitten Survives Ride Under Car Hood in Freezing Temperatures

November 19, 2014

Winter is one of the most perilous times of the year for stray, feral and outdoor cats. With freezing temperatures, limited food sources and little shelter from the elements, many turn to unusual tactics to keep safe and warm. One such tactic is to hide under car hoods for warmth, and this week, we met a lucky kitten who did just that—and survived a 30 mile journey in the process. 

On Tuesday, Robert Promisel of Westchester County, New York, drove into New York City with his wife, Susan. Temperatures dipped below 25 degrees as they parked their car in a garage on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at 9:00 A.M. When they picked the car up a few hours later, they heard a distinct “meow,” but assumed it was coming from somewhere inside the garage. When the meowing continued, they pulled over.

“We checked the trunk, the glove compartment, under the seats. Then we looked under the hood,” Robert recalls. That’s when they first saw the frightened feline.

“Outdoor cats sometimes crawl or sleep under the hood of cars to stay warm,” says Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Adoption Center. It is likely that the kitten was seeking shelter from the elements when she got stuck in the Promisels' car.

After finding the kitten, Susan remembered that the ASPCA’s hospital was just five blocks away. She walked over immediately and told her story to Stephen Cameron, an intake assistant, who summoned George Harris, a foreman in the ASPCA’s facilities department, and behavior counselors Blair de Jong and Alfonso Sawadan. They headed to the garage with hastily-assembled rescue equipment, including a laser pointer and a can of sardines.

At the scene, George shined a high-powered flashlight under the car and spotted the kitten maneuvering around the engine block, wiggling her way up toward the hood before disappearing. When she meowed, they pinpointed her exact location—wedged behind the battery.

With help from the AAA and 54th Street Auto Center owner Nick Santana, the team was able to work around the engine bay and lift out the battery. Blair then reached in, scruffed the cat, and gently pulled her out. Though scrawny and dirty, the petite, green-eyed Siamese mix appeared unharmed and welcomed the attention. The rescuers named her “Miracle.”

While Miracle’s story is a memorable case, it’s sadly not an unusual one. Pounding on car hoods before starting the engine can give cats or other small animals a chance to escape or make their presence known and could help save lives this winter.

Miracle is now under the care of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where she received a complete medical work-up and will be spayed and readied for adoption. We’re so glad Miracle is safe, but there are countless other animals who still need our help. Please help us save at-risk animals all winter long by making a donation to the ASPCA today.

Though Miracle is not currently available for adoption, there are many cats and kittens at the ASPCA looking for a family. Please visit our Adoptable Cats page and consider opening your heart and home to feline friend today.