ABU DHABI // It took a team of eight rescuers to save a cat named Harley after a pilot discovered the missing pet lodged in the engine of his car.
Year-old Harley’s misfortunes began after he escaped from his carriage on Monday as his owner, Brian Lott, carried him through Al Bandar car park on the way home from lodgings at the German Veterinary Clinic.
Even with the help of two veterinary technicians Mr Lott enlisted to help him search for Harley, the ginger house cat was posted missing until the following morning when Etihad pilot Arne Proske tried starting his 2007 black Porsche Cayenne.
“I heard a yelling,” said Mr Proske, a German. “You don’t expect a noise like this in the early morning.”
He walked around his car, beaming the light from his phone into the nooks and crannies, but did not see an animal.
“There was nothing visible, so it was a little bit weird,” said Mr Proske.
When he turned the ignition a second time, the noise started again and he was certain an animal must be trapped.
He spoke to the security guards who told him a neighbour was missing a cat. Mr Lott was called to the car park to look in the engine, and he knew right away his cat was lodged inside.
“Judging from his meow, it was quite clear [it was Harley] and then I could see through the gaps in the engine that it was definitely him,” said Mr Lott.
When he called the German Veterinary Clinic to report the emergency, the office responded by sending a team of four to Harley’s rescue, including business owner Dr Katrin Jahn.
Dr Jahn said Harley’s predicament was unlike any she had seen before.
“From the way it was in there, the paw looked like flattened – it looked half the thickness of a normal paw,” said Dr Jahn.
When Mr Proske had switched on his car, Harley’s front right paw caught in the fan belt.
“I could hardly believe it because he had his right paw wrapped around a fanbelt wheel – so imagine your right arm that has gone under the wheel and then comes out the top side,” said Mr Lott. “I was in disbelief that he can get in that position.”
At first there was talk of amputating the leg, and then of removing car parts to free the cat, said Mr Proske.
“I said: ‘Hold on, before anyone starts to rip my car apart or rip the cat apart, let me call my mechanic,’” said Mr Proske, who called J Z M Gulf. Within 30 minutes, two mechanics arrived and proceeded to take the engine apart.
“They removed the first piece, second piece, third piece, but, no, it was perfect, it’s fine,” said Mr Proske with a laugh. Three hours later, and heavily sedated and shocked, Harley was freed and whisked to the clinic where a team of vets was waiting for him.
“At first we thought that the leg was going to be shattered but actually there are no broken bones, but he had pretty extensive soft tissue and skin injuries,” said Dr Jahn, noting that Harley is expected to make a full recovery.
Mr Lott said that under the circumstances, his cat was in fact “lucky”.
“I could have had a neighbour who didn’t care, a building team that wasn’t alert and conscientious, a veterinary staff who passed it off as just another injured animal and not worth the time or mechanics that weren’t able to help,” said Mr Lott.
“But the combination of the above made just a small and intense miracle happen.”