Lost Your Cat In Your Car?

Have you ever lost your cat in your car? This lady did for two weeks! I don’t actually blame her. I feel it could happen to the best of us.


Update: Next day. I am sorry if I put the wrong spin on this story. It can be hard to find a balance between making stories interesting and different and at all times respecting the cat. The cat was unharmed but of course had a really tough time whilst trapped. But the question in the title is real. It is possible for a cat to hide in some cars where there are small spaces and that applies equally to the passenger compartment.


The cat, Princess, a cute and laid back, semi-longhaired moggie had clambered into the engine compartment of the lady’s BMW and got stuck. Princess remained in the engine compartment for two weeks while her owner tried to find her. Over that period she did quite a bit of travelling and even went through a car wash!

She found her when she had to open up the bonnet (hood) because a warning light had come on. The light had come on because Princess had clawed at the coolant hose and it had leaked! An engineer had to dismantle a part of the engine compartment to get her out.

As is so typical of the wonderfully resilient domestic cat, after the coolant had been washed off she resumed where she had left off two weeks before her adventure, having a nice meal and a drink. It was as if nothing had happened, almost. The only change to her life was that she had lost a lot of weight. Surprised? It appears she did not drink either.

Elisa has written a number of pages about cats going under the hood of a car. Sealy is a classic example of a cat injured by a fan blade. Watch those engine compartments. Lost your cat in your car? Look under under the hood (bonnet).

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Lost Your Cat In Your Car? — 12 Comments

    • You are correct. I was a bit disrespectful. The reason is that the cat was unharmed and the story ended well. I apologise if I wrote the article in too jokey a manner. It can be difficult to find the right balance sometimes between making it interesting whilst always respecting the cat.

      And there is another aspect this. It is possible to temporarily lose your cat in the car if she is allowed to roam in the car because there are some little spaces where a cat can hide. This happened to me once when I drove to Ireland with my cats.

      • We took our cat for a walk on a lead once and it was a total 100% disaster – he climbed up into the engine and refused to come out. This is a horrible thing to happen because you really cant force them out even if you are holding a lead attached to them. It’s dirty and horrible inside a car engine. I literally had to scare Pepi back out the bottom of the engine whilst my girlfriend held the lead. I will never do that again – ever. A cat on a lead can go under anything or in a small gap and you can’t do a thing about it. Personally I don’t advise walking cats on a lead without making sure you are walking in the middle of an open area where there is nothing the cat can go in or under. Engines being one possibbility. I am suprised the cat did not respond when the lady called for her – it’s a little strange no?

        • Two good points. It is strange that Princess did not get out. I sense that she was able to get in but unable to get out. That might not make sense because there must have been a space large enough to get through and cats can back up – go into reverse – to extricate themselves from tight spots. So, yes, I agree it is strange. Perhaps she was hiding from something.

          Your comment about leash walking and open spaces is interesting. The danger you described would not cross people’s minds and is therefore well worth mentioning.

  1. Thank goodness Princess was OK after that ordeal!
    It’s a miracle she survived.
    As for cats in cars, I may be quite paranoid about ‘thinking cat’ but there are so many ways they can get into trouble, one is letting them travel free in a car, if an accident happened the cat would be totally vulnerable and emergency services cutting out a human couldn’t chase after a frantic and shocked possibly injured cat if he panicked and ran. It’s always best to put a cat in a proper secure cat carrier for any journey no matter how short.
    How awful for you Marc. Cats on leads are a HUGE no no to me, they are CATS not dogs, cats were never meant to be led along by a collar or harness and lead….yes I know, some accept it but it’s not natural and it makes me sad when cats are not allowed to be cats doing what cats like to do.

    • I agree, Ruth, that to let cats roam around a car while travelling is fraught with potential danger. I allowed it to happen (for two cats) about 25 years ago. However, the journey was a very long one: from London to the west coast of Ireland! I sort of had to let them out. I temporarily lost the girl but she ended up on the dashboard looking out of the window 🙂 That was her position for many miles. But, yes, many possible problems. Cats can get in the way of the pedals, for example.

    • Ruth I agree and used to argue with my girlfriend when she wanted to let the cats out in the car. I don’t accept doing as such. Nor do I accept walking a cat on a leash anymore after that one single experience. We tried for Pepi to make him happier but it was a terrible idea. I worry if all there is holding your cat safely is a string and if it breaks you are done for because your cat will run away. I won’t do it. I refuse.

  2. When I was a kid Tippy would travel with us in the car all the time. She liked to sit on the back of the passenger seat, looking out. We’d open the door, she’d jump in, we’d get to the river and she’d jump out to hunt while we swam. When it was time to go we’d call her and she’d come and jump in the car. It wasn’t a proper beach– just an area by a seldom used boat landing next to acres of undeveloped land. We never thought it was strange that Tippy wanted to come along. But she wasn’t frightened, so that is the difference. She never would have went down by the floor by the pedals. She liked to see out. Of course, she would have become a projectile in an accident but so would we all have been since nobody wore seat belts back then.

    Monty still goes out with his harness if he wants to go out in front of the house. There is a leash law so I can’t really do anything different. In our fenced yard it’s ok, plus nobody can see back there. But in front he has to have it. He stays close to the house and sniffs the porch a little, then asks to go in. Once in awhile he gets tired of just looking out the window and needs to get in a few sniffs. He’s never tried to crawl up in anything, and if he tries to get away it’s just to run to the back yard, which he prefers anyway. He will go under a car, but he’s never crawled up in the engine compartment. I have been able with his harness to keep him from going under. But once when his fence was temporarily out because Jeff had been blowing snow back there I came out with Monty and just blocked his route to the cars and kept him up near the garage with my body, just stepping toward him, claiming the space as mine where I did not want him to go, and he went and sniffed elsewhere. He gets his stubborn moments, but he will listen to me most of the time.

    With Tippy she just wanted to be where we were, so she never went far. No one was strict about leash laws back then, dogs or cats, they pretty much all roamed free. Our cat Tigger scratched the neighbor’s little dog Jumbo (was that his name?) and no one made a federal case out of it. The bad thing with Tippy is that she followed us everywhere, even when we walked to the grocery store she’d just wait outside until we came out. She followed us to the vacant lots across the street and found the hunting was good over there. We should never have let her out without us there to watch her. She got hit by a car one summer morning coming back from hunting in the field across the street.

  3. I’ve had a few go under the car seat before. VERY hard to coax them out. After that I learned to use carriers. Except for Spot, who was claustrophobic after being trapped on the terra cotta pipe at the bottom of an uncovered well a few houses over. He HAD to ride on the passenger seat. The others are always put in the carrier.

    • But for very long journeys what do you suggest? If you are travelling across country for 12 hours it seems a bit tough to keep a cat in a carrier. I suppose the answer is a station wagon type car with the rear compartment set up for a travelling cat with a fence (a barrier) to stop him coming into the front passenger area. That is what I visualise. Like taking a dog in a car.

  4. Tippy was just different. I wish I had realized just how unique she was. I was young and hadn’t been around that many cats. Tippy was feral, a barn cat, older than Monty when I found him, yet she just walked right up to us. She chose us. She was never wild, though she should have been. She always liked people. She just wanted to be with us. When we did yard work she would ride in the wheel barrow. When mom would try to bury fish heads and guts in the garden Tippy would constantly jump in the hole she dug. Mom would move the cat, pick up the fish, put down the fish, move the cat, pick up the fish…

    It would just have been incomprehensible that Tippy would hide under the seat of the car. She rode along with us sometimes and while mom and dad would go in the store we’d stay out in the car with the cat, all the windows down. We never thought, “Tippy will jump out and run away.” She always wanted to be with us. She always seemed so sensible somehow, but of course even the smartest cat is no match for traffic. There was a trucker–owner operator– who lived down the street. We think Tippy avoided the tractor and front wheels of the trailer, but got hit by the back wheels of the trailer. Humans can’t figure out that tractor trailers make wide right turns– why would a little cat? She didn’t expect where the back wheels were going to track in relation to the rest of the vehicle. That’s our guess anyway.

    She was the cat my parents allowed to have just one litter. She was the proudest mom, and was completely comfortable letting us handle her kittens. She had them in the box we’d prepared for her and never moved them.

    She was so extraordinary, but I shouldn’t compare Monty to her. He is who he is. He’s a cat who hates car rides, has to be restrained in the car, will never want to go places with me… He’s also not half the hunter Tippy was. I saw him completely miss a chipmunk the other day and I thought, “Tippy would have had him.” But I love Monty and I know I’m a better cat caretaker than I was as a kid. I wish I had been as good to Tippy as I am to Monty. I pray that I will someday be reunited with Tippy and be given all eternity to make it up to her. I pray for that a lot.

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