Firefighters were able to free a cat stuck in a vehicle's engine compartment

PHELPS — The small gray-and-white stowaway wasn’t a kitten, but it wasn’t a full-grown cat, either.

But the cat’s size was just right for getting stuck in the engine compartment — and it wasn’t coming out, at least not without some coaxing and nifty automobile repair expertise from Phelps firefighters.

Rescue crews were called shortly after noon Saturday to a gas station on Route 96 for the report.

The driver, whose name was not immediately available Saturday, drove to the station, but only heard the cat meowing after arriving, according to firefighter Phil Frere, who was one of four firefighters who responded to the scene.

The driver was not the owner of the cat, which was freed in about 10 minutes. Firefighters first had to remove the vehicle’s battery and move other parts around in order to get to the cat.

“It was wedged in there pretty good,” Frere said. “We wanted to get the cat out unharmed.”

Mission accomplished, as Frere was able to gently remove the cat, which seemed appreciative of the effort.

“It wanted to cuddle up next to me,” Frere said. “I think it wanted to get warm.”

While most everyone has heard of firefighters having to rescue cats from trees, that’s mostly a stereotype as these kinds of rescues don’t happen all that often, Frere said.

Of course that’s not including the one last year, in which Phelps firefighters were able to free a dog that's head got stuck in a tire rim.

The vehicle owner believes the cat is a neighbor’s pet and so brought it back home, said Fire Chief Ron Nieskes.

The rescue is just part of what firefighters do nowadays, Nieskes said.

“Used to be we just fought fires,” Nieskes said. “This was fun and kind of different. When I got on the radio and said, ‘Extrication complete,’ I could hear the dispatcher chuckle.”