Navy helicopter engineer dismantles car to rescue stray kitten trapped inside

A helicopter engineer who dismantled a car to save an injured eight-week-old kitten has said there was no way he could have left it behind.

Adam Hughes, a Leonardo Helicopters engineer, was on his way home from work at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, in Cornwall, when he came across a kitten at the airport.

Fergie the kitten looks at the camera

The kitten was then taken to the vets for emergency surgery to amputate the leg and is now recovering at the center (Cats Protection/PA)

Mr Hughes, who had lost the family’s pet cat the day before, noticed the little stray was limping with a broken leg.

“I was going home to comfort my family because we had lost our own cat Orlando to kidney failure the day before,” he said.

“He had been a much-loved part of the family and really helped my daughter’s mental health during lockdown.

“There was no way I was going to leave a potentially injured kitten behind.”

But as Mr Hughes and two junior aircrew approached the small grey-brown tabby, it jumped the exhaust pipe of a nearby Volkswagen Golf and ran into the car’s engine compartment.

The car’s owner, who was in a nearby hangar, gave Hughes permission to dismantle the car, and a passing truck driver offered his tools to help.

After removing the turbocharger and pipes, then jacking up the car to remove the bottom panels, the kitten was discovered inside a small hole between the wheel arch and the liner.

The eight-week-old kitten was discovered inside a small hole between the wheel arch and the lining of a Volkswagen Golf (Martyn Collick/PA)

The eight-week-old kitten was discovered inside a small hole between the wheel arch and the lining of a Volkswagen Golf (Martyn Collick/PA)

Mr Hughes said: “Luckily it was an older car so we were able to peel back the lines and when we did one of the flight crew was able to reach in to get hold of the kitten’s tail and undamaged hind legs.

“Very carefully, but with a lot of howling from the kitten, we managed to get her out.”

“I called my wife Helen and daughter Lucy and asked them to get Orlando’s box ready because I brought home an injured kitten.”

The family called Cats Protection’s Cornwall Adoption Center for help, having adopted Orlando from the center 11 years earlier.

The kitten was then taken to the vets for emergency surgery to amputate her leg and is now recovering at the centre.

The adoption team have named the kitten Fergie, in a nod to the airbase where she was found and inspired by the Budgie The Little Helicopter books written by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

The kitten Fergie lies on the lap

The team at Cats Protection Cornwall Adoption Center have named the kitten Fergie (Cats Protection/PA)

Samantha Lawton from Cats Protection said it would have been “unlikely” the kitten would have survived if Mr Hughes had not stepped in to help.

“We are so grateful to Adam and everyone who helped save Fergie,” Lawton said.

“She will have been in a lot of pain with her leg and it is unlikely she would have survived without Adam’s help.

“Little Fergie is now with an experienced foster and is learning how to walk like a tripod, or three-legged, cat and how to play with fishing rod toys, ping pong balls and toy mice.

“She has a long journey ahead of her but has already shown herself to be a brave fighter and is starting to really enjoy being around people and at home.”

Fergie will be spayed, vaccinated and microchipped while in care and once she is fully healed and ready for homecoming, her details will be posted on the centre’s website.

To contribute towards the costs of Fergie’s veterinary care, surgery and post-hospital care visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cats-protection-cornwall-acfergiesappeal

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