I Have (a/no) Idea How This Cat Got Wedged Inside My Car... help me get him out?
August 7, 2012 4:31 PM   Subscribe

A tiny kitten has decided to hide underneath my car (like, up in some crevice). Any tips for getting him out?

Cat dramatics!

One of my coworkers came back from lunch to the plaintive sounds of kitty cries. A super cat lady, she figured out that the cat was trapped inside the engine compartment of one of our company cars. A few of us tried to figure out where, grab him out but he was underneath one of the skid plates. Eventually, I called AAA and they came out, jacked up the front wheel, popped the plate and...

Tiny kitten comes racing out....

... Directly up inside some crevice of my car, parked a few feet away. We could kind of see his tail poking down, though that's gone away. The tow guy has left (technically, he did fix the original problem!) and we've put out some cups of water, a hidey box with a sweater in it a few feet away and a cup of half-and-half.

I'd like to go home at some point. My other co-worker/friend is coming back with some super stinky cat food tins and we'll put that out as well. There are feral cats around though so we know that anything like that left overnight will attract them (and probably they'd at least scare away the kitten if he doesn't belong with them?). Is there anything we can do to entice the cat out?

We've left it alone at this point, figuring we'd just scare it deeper inside and hoping he'd come out on his own. I'm not sure if I go out in a couple of hours if I'd even be able to tell he's there (OMG! Though he does reply to my own cat sounds) and I really REALLY do not want my brand new baby car to be a baby cat death machine. I could leave it overnight and take one of the other cars (or walk, I don't live that far away) but I don't really want it to become a cat home either.

So, like, is he gonna come out now? Please say yes! There is no shortage of cat people here who are willing to take him in, get him to a vet, etc. We'd definitely all like him not to get run over.
posted by marylynn to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Honk the horn.
posted by Lobster Garden at 4:32 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Stinky food will work wonders.
posted by Specklet at 4:34 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try banging on the hood or trunk.
posted by scratch at 4:35 PM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: Can of tuna.
posted by elizardbits at 4:36 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

This happened to me, in a parking lot, at a customer's office building. I ended up taking off bits of plastic shielding from all over the underside of the car (with a Leatherman) until I could spot her and get my hands on her. Like you, I was scared to drive anywhere once I knew she was in there.

Mind you, I'd driven some 60 miles with her squirreled away in the engine compartment, so she was scared shitless. I discovered she was in there when I got out of the car for my appointment and came out an hour or so later to discover that she was still there. Then the car surgery.

That's how I got a kitten who grew into this cat.

Anyway, that's an option.Eventually it will come out, but you may have to go in after it.
posted by jquinby at 4:40 PM on August 7, 2012 [16 favorites]

Can you borrow a cat from one of the cat people? In my experience, the quickest route to getting a scared cat out of a hiding place is to send in a second cat. (Food, even smelly, didn't do a thing.)
posted by kmennie at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2012

In addition to the aforementioned can of tuna:

Laser pointer?

Cardboard box?
posted by Flunkie at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Have not tried honking the horn! I'll do that when I go back out. We did put out stinky food and a conveniently closeby cardboard box to hide in instead. There's lots of nearby shubbery as well so it could take off for that even easier than almost any other spot. I can't see it's tail anymore and it isn't responding to my calls. I'm hoping that means it darted out while we all went away. I did start the car - it wasn't in the actual engine compartment.

There doesn't seem to be too much to take apart under there. It's a brand new car (2 months) so I'm not inclined to rip away at it haphazardly. To really get underneath it you need to lift it, which might mean driving it to a mechanic shop. Ugh.
posted by marylynn at 4:53 PM on August 7, 2012

What model of car is it? If you describe the model and the approximate cat-location, some car person may be able to tell you A)what it's hiding in B)how to get to it C)whether the cat can shimmy up further from there into the engine.

If all else fails, call Animal Control or a vet. They won't necessarily take the kitten away to KITTY DOOM at the pound, but they will have experience fishing animals out of tight places.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's a 2012 Volvo C30. The previous spotting of the tail location was basically midline just about a foot in front of the back wheels. But we could see that spot when we looked up under now (someone with less boobs than me can shimmy closer under) and it's empty. There doesn't look to be many spaces to crawl into, it's pretty insulated.
posted by marylynn at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: Stinky food -- tuna, wet cat food from the grocery store, even baby pureed chicken & broth (no onions). Honk the horn. Try to turn on the car (accessory only), which might make a noise that will startle it without being too dangerous. If you have a remote lock, lock the door until it beeps or set off the alarm.

The food is the best choice, because then you have a chance at catching tiny kitten while it eats.
posted by jeather at 5:18 PM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: Honking or banging will scare her and her instinct will be to hide even more, and be even more silent.

A very attractive hiding box, with stinky bonus tuna, and no visible humans, is a much better idea.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:23 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Have you tried opening the hood?
posted by corb at 8:05 PM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Update: We got him! (or her). My friend and I set up a humane trap he had with some super stinky food, waited around for a couple of hours and slowly the cat crept out. Unfortunately he wasn't big enough to set off the catch (the trap is usually used for fat suburban raccoons and the like) but like a frickin' ninja my friend crept around behind it and flipped it up and set off the door.

So now I have a tiny kitten in my bathroom. He's still in the trap (plenty of room and seemed safest for both of us) with some water. He'd already eaten a TON of the food so he's probably good until morning for that. My cat is segregated out (and seems completely unaware there's even another animal here, despite the kitten's cries) in the rest of the apartment and I'll take the kitten into my vet a few blocks away first thing in the morning. So the cat will still be in the car just, you know, the right part.

The kitten cannot be more than a few weeks old and very feisty but super cute. I can't get a good photo of him in there and I don't want to scare him more so am keeping the cage mostly covered up. No idea if I'll keep him or he'll be adopted out to a friend but in any case I think he'll be living a life of super kitty luxury from now on. Also, totally named him Ottö.
posted by marylynn at 9:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [46 favorites]

Excellent catch! This post now requires Otto-pictures once he sits in one place.

For the record, I currently picture Otto with teeny-tiny Doc Ock metal tentacles.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:01 PM on August 7, 2012

posted by LobsterMitten at 11:33 PM on August 7, 2012

Awesome! that's how my family got our current cat as well. :D
posted by cendawanita at 12:45 AM on August 8, 2012

Awesome. Go Otto! Go Marylynn.

When kitty is up to it, please post photo.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:28 AM on August 8, 2012


I wish I could favourite this post twice because of the title!
Indeed, for purely scientific and educational purposes, we need photos of the kitten. :)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2012

This is so awesome - I also have an Otto. Full Name : Herr Otto Chumley Von Doppler.
posted by HopperFan at 7:05 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I managed to snag a pretty terrible photo of him just before bring him into the vet. He's there for the day while they check him (her?) out.
posted by marylynn at 9:08 AM on August 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

What a cutie! Congrats!
posted by ilona at 10:16 AM on August 8, 2012

Adorable! Consider changing the spelling from Ottö to Ötto, which would rhyme with uh-oh, cos he's a little bundle of trouble.
posted by Iteki at 11:27 AM on August 8, 2012

Response by poster: Here's a much better photo. So far the vet thinks he's healthy - FIV etc back tomorrow. He's definitely a HE, about 6 weeks old and despite his hissing at you will reliably let you hold him and start purring in about 30 seconds, biscuits to follow shortly. He really misses his mommy. Hopefully the tests are all negative and I can see if he can start the socialization process with my existing beast, Baron the Inspector Sebastian Bazzy Baz of Bazington....the Third. I let them take a look at each other with the kitten in the carrier and Baz showed interest that was pretty neutral - curious but not antagonistic or hostile at all. Ottö immediately stopped crying, came up to the door of the cage and stuck his paw through so yeah, he needs some catention. He has the free run of the bathroom and likes to go up on that shelf and hide behind the toilet paper.
posted by marylynn at 7:19 PM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

awwww! what a pretty itty bitty blue kitty!

Assuming all his tests pan out, you're super lucky he's that young in some regards - it will likely be so much easier to intro a very young kitten to Baz - in my experience resident adult cats have a way of giving kittens, especially tiny ones, infinite free passes for a whole lot of stuff (including just the whole concept of invading their house) that they'd never tolerate for a second from older/adult cats.

also it will VASTLY help Little Dude's socialization process to have Baz teach him the ropes. And, from my fuzzy memory of our barn cats when I was a kid, ALL itty bitty kittens (that aren't hand raised from day zero and a super socialized mama-cat) will hiss when you pick them up. It's like an auto defense mechanism.

FWIW our fully adult, super friendly ultra socialized (but ultimately he was a feral kitten starting out) Ragdoll cat will hiss sometimes when you pick him up (usually when he's doing something he TOTALLY knows he shouldn't be doing). He never means anything by it or follows it up with any sort of aggression, so I merely interpret it as a mild form of cat epithet.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2012

Response by poster: Otto and Baz are getting along preeeeetty well (no fighting, some pawing but nothing aggressive and Otto now has the run of the house) - so we're keeping him. Thanks everyone for your help. I had no idea when I posted this question I'd end up with a new family member!
posted by marylynn at 6:51 PM on August 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

This was such a sweet story! Thank you for saving him, for the updates, and for the happy ending. You rock! (And I love his name -- the best names are the ones with a story behind them!)
posted by onlyconnect at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2012

Yay! Completely adorable, the both of them.
posted by Specklet at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2012

Response by poster: They are becoming good friends.
posted by marylynn at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2012 [15 favorites]

Yay! Just... YAY!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:16 PM on August 13, 2012

Looks like a Russian Blue, my favorite kind of kitty!
posted by cazoo at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2012

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