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Mechanics rescue kitten who took 80-mile ride under car hood

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Allie Johnke, a cashier at Rydell's service center, and Cordeau Sapp, a Rydell service adviser, pose with a kitten rescued at the service center after it traveled 80 miles under the hood of a patron's vehicle. Sapp helped pull the kitten to safety and Johnke adopted the kitten. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service2 / 2

GRAND FORKS — Kenzie Holm's car purred, but not for the reason it is supposed to.

A kitten that took an 80-mile ride in the engine compartment of Holm’s vehicle was stuck under the hood, but mechanics at the Rydell Car Service Center were able to pull the little black fur ball to safety while changing the oil.

The kitten had caught a ride near Oklee, Minn., to Grand Forks. Holm doesn’t know how the small animal held on for the 80-mile drive, but she was surprised when her husband, Tyson, told her about the discovery.

“My husband called and said ‘there’s a kitten under the hood of your car,’” Holm said. “I quickly wanted to go over there because I needed to see it.”

Holm and her family have a hunting cabin near Oklee, and her uncle owns a nearby dairy farm. It’s home to several cats and kittens, she said.

The kitten was born in the summer. Holm said she loves cats and tried to catch the little animal this weekend, but it kept running away.

On Sunday night, she drove the 80 miles back to Grand Forks, where she and her husband live. Little did they know, they had a stowaway on board.

Her car was due for an oil change, so her husband took the vehicle to Rydell. When the mechanics opened the hood to look inside Monday, they saw the kitten sitting next to the engine.

“I don’t know how it made it all the way,” she said. “We were going down (U.S.) Highway 2, and the speed limit there is 65 mph.”

Holm thinks the kitten was looking for a warm place to settle in for the night when it crawled into the car Sunday.

It’s not the first time service center staff have found an animal inside a vehicle, said Cordeau Sapp, a Rydell service adviser who helped pull the kitten to safety.

“Last year, we had to call animal control for a beaver that was stuck in a car,” he said, adding he also pulled a mouse out from underneath a vehicle hood.

Finding a kitten in a car was a first for Sapp, he said, adding it was a little hard to catch.

“I was a little surprised,” he said. “She was pretty spooked.”

But fear not, cat lovers. This story has a happy ending.

The 3-month-old kitten is safe and has a new home, thanks to Rydell cashier Allie Johnke. On Wednesday, she and staff still were discussing what name would best fit the kitten, but at least it has a safe place to live.

“She’s really cuddly,” Johnke said. “She’s pretty lucky.”

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248