On January 14, Brooklyn native Raven Huang was taking his beloved kitty, Gumbo on a trip to the vet when he escaped from his carrier and ran off.
Nine days and 230 miles later, Gumbo resurfaced at a ski resort in upstate New York after hitching a ride under the hood of his neighbor, Dana Esses’ Honda mini van.
Esses had noticed a strange odor inside her van, but she never imagined it could be a trapped animal. After the 3 1/2 hour trip from Manhattan Beach to the town of Queensbury in Warren County, the smell was stronger than ever. When Esses popped the hood she was shocked to find the 10-year-old orange tabby staring back at her.
She told NY Daily News:
“It found its way to a warm place. It wasn’t wedged or anything. It sort of peeked its little head out when my husband came over and then retreated back. It was incredible. It didn’t look injured at all.”
The Esses family alerted a security guard at The Great Escape Lodge – the ski resort where they were staying – and the hotel quickly contacted the Warren County SPCA. At first the dispatcher thought the whole thing was a joke. It just didn’t seem possible that a cat could survive a trip from New York City inside an engine!
SPCA Director Jim Fitzgerald responded to the scene and pulled Gumbo to safety from beneath the hood.
“He was really tucked in there. It looked like he’d been there a few days. There was hair everywhere,” Fitzgerald said. “He was lethargic, but he fought me for a little bit. I could tell he wasn’t an Adirondack feral cat.”
Fitzgerald snapped photos and posted them to Facebook, hoping to find the cat’s owner. The post went viral reaching nearly 130,000 users. Soon a call came in from Lost and Found Pets in Brooklyn saying they had a report of a similar looking cat missing from the area.
Sure enough, the elusive stowaway turned out to be none other than Raven Huang’s escaped cat, Gumbo! The pair were joyfully reunited at the SPCA this past Friday.
From now on Gumbo will wear a leash on vet trips and the Esses family van will bear a “No Vacancy” bumper sticker!
Although this story has a happy ending, countless cats are injured or killed every year when they crawl inside car engines seeking warmth. Keep your kitties safely indoors during the colder months and try knocking on the hood or checking underneath before starting your engine in case a neighborhood cat is inside.
H/T to NY Daily News
Featured Image via Facebook/SPCA of Warren County NY