Whangarei mechanic Michael Smith's job title usually doesn't include rescuing cats - but today he spent about an hour trying to rescue a grey and white kitten from the depths of a car's engine.

Mr Smith, owner of Westech Automotive, looked under the bonnet of the car and removed the engine cover and air filter searching for the kitten. He also jacked up the car with help from his team and tried to grab it while the SPCA staff stood nearby.

However, the kitten was too fast and once it was touched it jumped out, sprinted away and crawled up into another car parked around the corner.

"We pulled away the air filter box to access the top of the gear box and eventually found the kitten. We jacked the car up to get our hands around him but when we touched it, it actually ran," said Mr Smith.


Mr Smith didn't walk away unscathed. The kitten, although small, scratched and bit Mr Smith on the hands.

The Advocate went back to check if the second car the cat had crawled into was still there but it had left. It's understood a note was left under the car's windscreen wipers to let the owner know the cat may be in there.

Mr Smith said he had never had to rescue a kitten from a car before, usually the only animals he found were dead rats.

The owner of the car, Elayne Windlebourne, 22, was on her way to work from Waikaraka, about 10km away, when she thought she heard meowing.

"I heard a meow and I thought I was imagining things and then I had a look and it was in there. It's not mine," she said.

Ms Windlebourne called the SPCA who arrived to the scene on Carruth St, Whangarei about 2pm. Ms Windlebourne said she was keen to keep the kitten but didn't think she would be allowed to.

Sandra Clarke, SPCA Whangarei cat isolation supervisor, said usually when cats were stuck in car engines they managed to get them out pretty easily.

"If it's an older car model you have more room to get them out but these ones have engine covers and it was right in there," she said.

Ms Clarke said being stuck in the car usually didn't harm cats as they were clever enough to stay away from anything hot.