Miracle Cat Survives a Seventy-Mile Trip Down the New Jersey Turnpike By Clinging to the Drive Shaft of an SUV
A petit eight-month-old gray and white American Shorthair survived a harrowing pre-Christmas seventy-mile ride down the New Jersey Turnpike by clinging to the drive shaft of an SUV.
The cat, who had apparently climbed underneath the hood of the car while it was parked in Newark on December 23rd in an attempt to keep warm, was spotted through the wheel well by a passing motorist at Exit 4 of the Turnpike near Cherry Hill. According to the January 3rd edition of the Asbury Park Press, the eagle-eyed motorist reportedly yelled out the window to the driver, "There's a cat under your car!" (See "Miracle Feline Avoids Real Cat-Astrophe").
The driver then pulled over and rescued the frightened feline and took him to the Animal Welfare Association in nearby Voorhees. The cat's paws were burned, one claw was missing, and his fur was singed but he was otherwise unharmed by his nerve-racking ordeal. Staff at the shelter have started calling him, appropriately enough, Miracle. "I'm just amazed that the cat didn't fall off or get blown off. That's why we're calling him Miracle," shelter director Karen Dixon-Aquino told the Asbury Park Press. The brave little cat is pictured above with veterinary technician Samantha Bosse.
At the time of his rescue Miracle was wearing only a flea collar and so far no one has come forward to claim him. Since the seven-day waiting period has elapsed, he has now been fitted with a surgically implanted microchip and is up for adoption. "We want to make sure he goes to someone who will keep him inside so he doesn't take another trip," Dixon-Aquino added.
Cold weather and warm engine blocks are all too often a lethal combination for homeless and lost cats. Although few motorists are willing to do it, anyone concerned about felines should look under the hood before getting behind the wheel, especially on cold days. It is not only amazing that Miracle was able to hold on for so long but that he was not injured by the fan blades and other moving engine parts. He is obviously a very courageous cat who has a strong will to live. It is hoped that he will be able to find a loving home real soon.
Another wintertime hazard for cats is antifreeze (See photo below). Conventional wisdom has it that cats, dogs, and children are attracted to the sweet smell of ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze. The Doris Day Animal League, which has been lobbying Congress to add Denatonium Benzoate (DB) to antifreeze in order to give it a bitter taste, estimates that 10,000 cats and dogs as well as 1,400 children are poisoned by the chemical each year. Cats and dogs come into contact with the poison from either engine leaks or when it is put out by evil people with malice aforethought. A bill which would require antifreeze manufacturers to add DB to their products was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee back in November but is yet to receive approval from either the full Senate or the House of Representatives. The law, which is sponsored by Virginia Republican George Allen, would exempt antifreeze manufacturers from all liability associated with DB but not ethylene glycol itself; the industry is, accordingly, supporting the bill.
Although well intended, this legislation -- if it ever becomes law -- may not be of all that much help to cats who, due to a genetic mutation, are unable to taste sweets. This petit fait is the product of research conducted by Joseph G. Brand and Xia Li of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and published July 24, 2005 in the Public Library of Science. (Also see "Cats' Sweet Tooth Long Gone," the Washington Post, July 25, 2005).
Cats are, however, sometimes attracted to the smell of sweets or to the salts and amino acids in them. It is therefore unclear exactly what it is in antifreeze that cats find so attractive. Normally, they are so selective about what they ingest that they will eschew a bowl of water placed in front of them in favor of a trip to a brook out back in order to drink running water. In order to spare the lives of countless unsuspecting cats, considerably more research is desperately needed on this matter.
Photos: Douglas M. Bovitt, Gannett (Miracle) and Cat Fanciers' Association (cat with antifreeze).