DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- You've heard tales of dogs jumping out of the family car during a vacation hundreds of miles away and then eventually finding their way back home. Well, this story about a cat that jumps into cars turns that tale upside down.
Deborah Wright was in Dallas, Texas, and went to a shopping center in October. That day, she noticed a black kitten bumping into a window of one of the shops.
"It was very confused," she said on a video call from Dallas.
Wright helped it get oriented and it ran off. Two days later she said her daughter heard a noise in her garage.
"She started hearing meowing. And we were going, 'No, that couldn't possibly be that kitten,'" said Deborah's daughter.
They soon realized the kitten had ridden home with them in the car's engine bay.
Since Wright's car was a Jaguar, her daughter named the cat Jag. After that, the five-week-old kitten stayed mostly hidden behind the garage refrigerator.
"We were just barely seeing glimpses of it and a paw every now and then and that was about it," Deborah said.
But it was eating the food and water the family left out for it.
Then a few days later Jag, unknown to Wright, hitched another ride in the engine bay on another shopping trip. When she discovered that, she made sure to check on the cat's whereabouts any time she left the garage.
Deborah's sister, Sarah Wright, who lives in Durham, drove in for a visit over Thanksgiving and learned of Jag's crazy engine bay adventures.
On the Tuesday after the holiday, she left Dallas and spent the night in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The next day, she completed her 1,100-mile trip to Durham. On Thursday, she went shopping in Durham and then called Deborah that evening. Her sister said jag was missing.
"From the time she left we did not see Jag again," Deborah said.
That night after speaking with her sister, Sarah couldn't sleep.
"In the middle of the night, I woke up and thought, 'That's just really strange. Maybe I should really look under the hood.' Which I did thinking I was going to see something terrible if I see anything at all," she said.
What she saw shocked her worse than what she had imagined.
"I see these eyes looking up at me. I feel like the blood drained out of my head and into my feet and I was just like, 'Oh, my God,'"
She locked Jag in the bathroom with food and water and took a picture of him. The next morning she reached out to her sister in Dallas who was in a business meeting.
"She sent me a text of a picture of Jag eating a can of food in her bathtub and said something like, 'Guess who's here,'" Deborah recalled.
She described her reaction saying, "I just started like yelling, 'I can't believe this!' And everyone's going, 'You've got to be kidding me, that's crazy.'"
It's still not clear how Jag survived such a long ride in a car with a boiling hot engine, although there are few places under the hood of Sarah's Subaru where he wouldn't be right up against the motor, like the shelf by the window-washing fluid reservoir. But Jag's journey is a tale the Wright families will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, because of her dog and other circumstances, Sarah can't keep Jag permanently. She gave Jag to another family, but he didn't socialize well with a cat the family already had. Now, she and her sister hope someone else will adopt the nearly adult, neutered cat who has had all his shots.
They're now looking for someone who is willing to have just one indoor-only cat.
Deborah Wright put it like this, "We're hoping that at some point in time he settles and finds a home that he's willing to stay inside as opposed to, you know, jump in another car. That's what has us most worried about him getting outside and finding another car to hitchhike in and maybe not being quite so lucky the next time."
Because there's no doubt that Jag has used up at least a couple of his nine lives.
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