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Stowaway cat reunited with owner after 240-mile joyride on minivan engine

Posted February 3

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A cat from Brooklyn definitely used one of its nine lives to survive a 240-mile joyride under the hood of a minivan.

Gumbo the cat broke free from his carrier on Jan. 14 while he and his owner — Raven Huang — were on their way to the vet for a checkup, according to a Facebook post by Huang’s friend, Roberta Engelfried.

Since Gumbo is a house cat and doesn’t spend much time outdoors, he somehow made his way under the hood of a Honda Odyssey, according to The Post-Star, which first reported the story. Seems like a decent place to hide, at least until the owners of the car took off on a road trip to upstate New York.

The family made it all the way to the Great Escape Lodge & Water Park in Queensbury when they finally discovered their stowaway in the engine space.

"It was a shock, to say the least," Dana Esses told the New York Daily News. “It found its way to a warm place. It wasn’t wedged or anything. It sort of peeked its little head out when my husband came over and then retreated back."

Esses called Warren County SPCA chief Jim Fitzgerald to help them pull Gumbo to safety, according to a Facebook Post by the organization.

Miraculously, Gumbo’s daring adventure left him relatively unscathed — while hungry and a little dehydrated, the cat was otherwise unharmed.

“(Fitzgerald) managed to extract the cat and bring him to safety!” the post — which included photos of Gumbo — read. “Kitty is resting comfortably now and will be going for vet care. So we think there could be someone in Brooklyn missing their kitty. … Wouldn’t it be amazing if we found the owner?”

News of Gumbo’s wild ride spread quickly — the post has been shared more than 2,300 times. Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, Huang and Engelfried searched frantically for the lost cat — hanging posters and fliers all over the neighborhood in the rain and snow, Engelfried wrote on Facebook.

“I’ve gone door to door and have been climbing over debris in backyards, lots, houses just everywhere looking for Gumbo and it’s been an exhaustive search,” she wrote.

Thanks to all the social media attention, Huang — who lives close to the Esses family back in Brooklyn — tracked down his beloved kitty nearly two weeks after the animal went missing.

A YouTube video shows the pair’s sweet reunion.

“It is very comforting that there are a number of great people out there,” Huang told The Post-Star.

Fitzgerald said Facebook has become a highly effective way to reunite owners with lost pets.

“Thanks to the best FB community anywhere!! You guys made this happen and we are truly amazed and grateful for your support,” an updated SPCA Facebook post read.

The Esses family is just glad their honorary family pet made it home where he belongs, though Dana Esses told her six kids not to get their hopes up for a cat of their own.

“They’ve always wanted a pet. I said this is the closest you’re getting,” she told the Daily News. “I’ve since ordered a little bumper sticker that says, ‘No Vacancy.’"

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.

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