A five-week-old kitten became an unexpected passenger on a 55-mile trip from Merseyside to Staffordshire when it climbed into the engine of a van.
The stowaway, who has been named Ringo after the Beatles drummer, is “doing well” in RSPCA care after weighing just 0.6 kilogrammes when discovered. The kitten was only found when telecoms engineer Dwayne Ofoeme and his two work colleagues stopped in Newcastle-under-Lyme and heard meowing coming from the engine.
Ringo is believed to have climbed in when the van left the Aigburth area of Liverpool. “We’d travelled down the M62 and the M6 and we’d got out in Cambridge Drive to start work,” Mr Ofoeme said.
“We immediately heard meowing and thought it was just a cat under the van… I then got underneath to see exactly where the noise was coming from and spotted a kitten – I couldn’t believe it.”
According to those attending the incident, it took more than an hour to catch Ringo, who kept darting between the chassis and undercarriage of the vehicle.
“He was really scared and I tried for a long time to try and reach him but he just wouldn’t come out, so we decided to call the RSPCA,” Mr Ofoeme explained. “He was such a character and we’re so pleased he’s OK.”
Ringo was finally lured out with a packet of cat food after RSCPA inspector Jackie Hickman arrived.
“The men were absolutely fantastic; they were extremely concerned for his welfare and did their very best to catch him, but unfortunately Ringo had other ideas,” the inspector said. It transpired that Ringo had been clinging to the undercarriage of the van for more than an hour.
“How he’s managed (that), I will never know,” Ms Hickman said. Ms Hickman confirmed that Ringo is in good health and is due to be vaccinated and microchipped in the coming weeks.
“He was seen by a vet and was very happy to have a little cuddle, so he’s definitely not a feral kitten and used to human company,” she said.
“If someone recognises Ringo and thinks he might be their missing pet, we would ask them to contact us.”
Ringo isn't the only pet who's undertaken a long journey, accidentally or otherwise.
Cats are notorious for creeping into the warmth of an open car bonnet in winter, to shelter from the weather - and easy to overlook when the bonnet is closed and the car sets off.
On Christmas Day last year, Tinsel the tortoiseshell cat survived an epic 125 mile trip from Birmingham to London, concealed in a car engine. Fortunately, the owner heard mewing drifting from the engine compartment and opened it up to check.
Cat charity the Celia Hammond Animal Trust took her in and gave her the festive name, then did their best to track down her owner, checking lost cat posts and sharing the details on social media. Just as they were despairing, the phone rang, and it was Tinsel's not-on-social-media owner.
Tinsel was swiftly returned to Birmingham (and her original name) and owners.
Another stowaway travelled over 250 miles trapped inside a car engine. Nicknamed Phileas Mogg, after Phileas Fogg, the hero of Around the World in Eighty Days, the adventurous furball was rescued by the RSPCA and an AA patrol.
The horrified driver realised he may have been in there for four days, after leaving Spain, travelling through two countries and even a car wash, all the way to the Midlands.
Inspector Simon Coombs said: “He was lucky to escape with some burns to his paws but it could have been far, far worse. I would certainly say if cats really had nine lives he’s lost one of them."
Another itinerant moggy, Tatty, was found in Stockton on Tees, having hidden behind the engine of a parked car. After a 70mph hurtle down the motorway, six-year-old Tatty was tracked down after owner Caroline Ludlam posted on Facebook asking people to look for him.
She said: “He’s not used to going outside and he’s quite a shy cat so he probably just ran and hid under the car. He was very lucky he wasn’t injured.”
A timely reminder to check your oil, petrol, battery and cat-burettor before setting off on these winter mornings.
Watch: Will Mellor talks about the time he came home from the vet with the wrong cat
Additional reporting by PA