Sharon Stirling, 49, from Kilmarnock, was driven to distraction when her cat went missing…
Waving off my friend after a chat and a cuppa, I closed the door.
But just a few seconds later, she was back, ringing my bell.
Confused, I opened the door to find her holding my cat, Jacob.
‘He was in my car!’ she giggled. ‘Good thing I noticed before I drove off!’
‘Thank you!’ I smiled, scooping him up. It was typical Jacob. All it took was someone being distracted as they opened the car door, and he’d sneak in.
A few times before, I’d been on my way to work when he’d appeared in the back seat!
I’d spotted him seven years earlier, in September 2011, as I walked past a pet shop window.
A tiny kitten, he was in his own cage and I just knew that I had to rescue him.
He’d been like my baby ever since, sleeping with me at night and waiting at the window when he heard my car coming up the drive.
But he was very shy, too.
Whenever my friends came round to visit me, he’d hide.
He only liked to hang around with me and my other cat, Maisie.
But one morning last July, Jacob was nowhere to be seen.
Usually he and Maisie would be in the kitchen at 5am, waiting for their breakfast.
Except, on that morning, only Maisie turned up. ‘Where’s Jacob?’ I asked. Maisie stared at me blankly. I was worried – he never stayed out all night.
But I drove to work, telling myself he’d just hidden somewhere and would be back home safely when I at the end of the day.
Returning home that afternoon, there was still no sign of him.
Worried, I knocked on my neighbours’ doors, asking if they’d seen him around.
That night, I hardly slept, and was out at dawn the next morning, walking down the street and calling his name.
But, as the days passed, my fears grew about where Jacob was.
I went around the neighbourhood, showing his photo to everyone I saw, and plastered the area with missing posters. I was absolutely distraught.
A week later, I drove round to visit my dad, Alex, 75.
I was returning his car – he’d had a hernia operation and couldn’t drive for two weeks, so he’d insisted I use the car while he was recovering. ‘I’m so worried about Jacob,’ I told Dad.
‘Don’t worry, he’ll turn up eventually,’ he said. A few days later, Dad called. ‘Listen carefully,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to scare you, but Jacob’s
in the grille of my car.’ I couldn’t believe it. ‘Is he alive?!’ I screamed. ‘Yes,’ Dad replied. ‘I’ve just spoon-fed him.’ I raced straight over. Jacob’s big, scared eyes stared at me through the metal holes as if he was in prison.
‘Don’t worry, love, we’ll get you out,’ I soothed.
Dad explained that he’d driven to Asda, and while in the car park, he’d seen a flash of white in his car.
‘I thought it was a seagull,’ he said. ‘Then I heard a meow and spotted Jacob through the grille.’
It had been nine days since he’d gone missing.
‘Do you think he’s OK?’ I worried, trying to find a way to get him out.
I had no choice but to slowly drive Dad’s car to the local garage – with Jacob still in the grille! Once there, I begged for help. ‘My cat’s trapped!’ I cried. Four mechanics put the car on a ramp and carefully unscrewed the front section.
Jacob was wedged in a metal tube behind the number plate!
The mechanics prised it down and I peered up.
Jacob’s little back legs were sticking out.
Taking a deep breath, I grabbed them and pulled him free.
He clung so hard to me his claws dug into my arm, but I didn’t care. He was alive! ‘He must have climbed over the tyre to get in there,’ the mechanics frowned.
Thanking them, I put Jacob in the boot and, back home, filled his bowl with food and water.
Then I took him to the vet for a checkup.
He’d lost a kilo, and had a big black bruise on his nose, but luckily hadn’t suffered any other injuries.
‘If it hadn’t been for the rainwater in the grille, he’d of died of dehydration,’ the vet said. ‘Oh, God,’ I gasped. His curiosity had nearly killed him!
Back home, Jacob was a bit wobbly, but within a few days, he was back to normal, playing with Maisie.
Still, I was sick with worry for a long time after that.
If he’d been in that grille any longer, he would have been toast!