Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It took a Missoula Rural Fire crew over an hour on Monday to rescue a stray cat that had lodged itself inside the engine compartment of a vehicle.

KGVO News spoke to Missoula Rural Fire Engineer Nathan Lapinski, who told the story about the feline rescue.

Missoula Rural Fire Frees Feline Stuck in Engine Compartment

“A gal was at the hospital and her she was coming out and her daughter noticed a cat tail sticking out of the intake of her car by the front bumper and realized that there was a cat that somehow made its way down into the bumper of her car, and she couldn't figure out how to get it out,” began Lapinski. “So she drove very carefully home and tried to coax it out with some food and then called Animal Control. They came over and determined that they were going to be unable to get the cat out of the car, so they ended up calling us, the fire department.”

Lapinski said it was a relatively new vehicle with very little room in the engine compartment to reach in and free the feline.

Fire Crews had to Practically Disassemble the Vehicle to Free the Caught Cat

“We had to actually partially disassemble the car and then after that, it probably took us 20 minutes to get the cat out,” he said. “It was a very small hole that the cat was able to fit through. We were trying to be very careful not to hurt the cat. And about halfway through the hips got stuck between the radiator and a structural member of the vehicle.”

How to get the caught cat out of the engine compartment proved to be a problem for the Rural Fire crew.

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A Liberal Soaking with Warm Water and Dawn Dislodged the Cat

“We didn't want to use oil because that's, you know, a fire hazard with a hot motor,” he said. “So we ended up creating a solution of warm water and Dawn dish soap. We were able to basically lubricate the cat up enough to get it through that small opening and transferred it over to the custody of animal control personnel who were on scene.”

Lapinski said the cat was obviously cold and malnourished, and so Missoula Animal Control transported the animal to the shelter to make it available for adoption.

Lapinski said the rescue was unusual, but he said Missoula Rural Fire is prepared for just about any situation.

Anyone interested in adopting the cat can contact Missoula Animal Control.

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