Tails of survival

Saved by a whisker: Kitten rescued from engine of driving Mercedes

June 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM ET

Mercedes the kitten has reason to meow "Merci!" to the fast-thinking photographer who rescued her on Sunday.
Antonio M. Rosario
Mercedes the kitten has reason to meow "Merci!" to the fast-thinking photographer who rescued her on Sunday.

Antonio M. Rosario, a professional photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has a hard time resisting cute cats in need — and, as the following story shows, that’s fabulous news for a female calico kitten dubbed Mercedes.

On Sunday morning, Rosario went to great lengths to rescue this tiny feline from what could have been a very dark fate. The kitten was trapped inside the engine of a moving Mercedes when Rosario intervened. “If we had been a minute off in any direction, this would never have happened,” Rosario told TODAY.com. “It was luck.”

Rosario blogged about the gripping rescue of his newest family member. Here is the story in his own words:

We're driving along Ocean Parkway, headed to Brighton Beach for a morning at the beach. Sometime while we're driving (I'm in the passenger seat) I hear what sounds like a cat crying. I don't pay it that much mind as I figure we're passing by some alley cats or something. Then, a little later when we hit a stoplight, I hear the sound again. This time I think that we have a cat in our car. I look out behind me and out the window and in the adjacent lane is see a Mercedes s550 with its left front turn signal light missing from the housing. In this housing is the little face of a kitten crying.

Whoa! I open the window and wave at the woman driving the car. I grab her attention and point to the front of her car. "You have a cat inside your car!" I yell. She rolls down her window and I yell at her again. "What should I do? Is it dead?" she says. "No, pull over there," I yell back.

Photographer Antonio M. Rosario is pictured here with his newest family member, Mercedes the kitten.
Antonio M. Rosario
Photographer Antonio M. Rosario is pictured here with his newest family member, Mercedes the kitten.

We both pull over to the service road on Ocean Parkway and like Avenue U or something. I tell her to shut down her engine. She does and gets out of the car and moves like 20 feet away, as if the car is on fire or something. I tell her again that there's a cat in her car and ask her to pop open the hood. She has no idea how to do this. I can see the kitten sitting inside the housing where the turn signal lamp should be. She's staring at me and I reach in to grab her and she disappears further into the engine.

At this point, we're attracting a small crowd. I'm asking people who walk by if they know how to open the hood of the car so we can rescue the kitten. Two guys get into the car and are searching for the hood release while I'm trying to reach in for the kitten.

Antonio M. Rosario /

We all have iPhones, so we start Googling how to open the hood of an s550. In the meantime, I ask the woman who's driving to call someone to ask them how to open the hood. This goes on for a while.

Suddenly, I see a paw protruding from the right front part of the car, near the turn signal housing. It's limp. Elizabeth and I fear the kitten is dead because the engine was so hot. I push at the paw and shove it back inside the housing. The kitten could not come out that way anyway. I could feel it and I poked it a bit and it started crying again.

The driver said to me, along with some of the other people who were there (they may have known the driver) that it was now ok and we could go and she would either drive over to the mechanic or the police would take care of it. We did not agree that it was fine. We told her if she started the car it would kill the kitten for sure. I don't think they were being malevolent in any way, I just don't think they knew what to do. Some other guys also cautioned about starting the car.

Now the kitten was crying. We finally got the hood open and I could finally see the kitten had moved a bit more towards the center of the car, between the radiator and the fan. She was looking up at us. I tried to reach my arm down, but there was not enough room and I kept burning myself on the radiator cap. Another guy started tapping underneath the car in order to scare her back towards the open housing on the left side of the car. That's when she decided to take a left turn and head further into the engine block, out of our sight. CRAP!!!!!

Mercedes is luxuriating in her new home, where she's getting top-notch care.
Antonio M. Rosario
Mercedes is luxuriating in her new home, where she's getting top-notch care.

One of the guys helping saw her and said she was near an opening that she could climb down and exit the engine. I got on the ground and pushed myself under the car as much as I could. I saw the hole and a little bit of fur. I asked Elizabeth for some of her breakfast scone so that I might entice her to eat. The driver said she had some ground beef from the supermarket, so I took some of that too. I shoved my arm under the car and held the meat up to the hole. I could see the kitten and she became interested in the meat. She first poked her head out of the hole. I told everyone to be quiet so we wouldn't scare her back into the engine. Finally she dropped one leg down then another. Finally, she dropped out of the hole and I grabbed her firmly and quick.

Gotcha!!!!!!

Antonio M. Rosario cuddles with Mercedes at home.
Antonio M. Rosario
Antonio M. Rosario cuddles with Mercedes at home.

We had a small crowd gathered and I'm holding her against my chest. Everyone's thanking us and we're thanking them, and the driver was relieved and happy. "Are you going to keep her?" a guy asked. What do you think our answer was.

We all agreed that she should be named Mercedes. Mercy (Merci) for short.

Welcome to our world Mercy. What a start!

Antonio M. Rosario /

Epilogue

We drove her right to the vet. She seems pretty healthy. Some conjunctivitis in her eyes. Maybe some worms. Possibly a few fleas if any. No feline leukemia (they have a 5-minute test they do now). She was starving and the vet gave her a can of food which she vacuumed down. No RFID tag under her skin. So things look good for her, at the moment. She's now installed in one of our bathrooms, separated from the Men [Rosario’s two other cats, Hank and Eddie] who, so far, haven't freaked out.

More updates as they come.

More from TODAY Pets:
Good news! Abandoned 'Suitcase 6' puppies find loving homes
Video: Meet Harper, the beloved puppy rescued from trash
Harper the puppy is doing great — and doing lots of good

TOP