Road-weary kitty is up for adoption

July 30, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - There's an 8-week-old kitten with a penchant for travel waiting for adoption in a Hancock County, W.Va., animal shelter.

Her name is Mercedes.

Last Friday she traveled 220 miles, from Chambersburg, Pa., to New Cumberland, W.Va., crouched behind the grill of a classic red 1985 Mercedes 380 roadster - 3 inches from the fan.

Other than being a bit traumatized, the kitten arrived unscathed, said her owner, Jim Albert of Chambersburg.

The kitten's journey began at Albert's home on Jacks Mill Road in Chambersburg about three months ago.

A stray black-and-white female cat, now called Princess, arrived at Albert's doorstep. He liked her and started feeding her. One day she came up to the porch dragging her hindquarters.


"Her back was broken. I planned to take her to a shelter to have her put down, but she disappeared," Albert said.

A few weeks later Princess showed up again, apparently healed and very apparently pregnant, Albert said.

She disappeared again, but resurfaced to drop her trio of 3-week-old kittens on Albert's porch. One was black and white, two were gray tabbies. One of the tabbies had green eyes, one had blue eyes.

Albert found homes for the black-and-white kitten and the green-eyed tabby.

"I liked the one with blue eyes, so I kept her," he said.

Mercedes took her first accidental jaunt in Albert's Jeep Cherokee the day he left for a fishing and golf vacation in Virginia.

He hadn't gone 12 miles when he heard a squeal coming from the back of the vehicle. He stopped, picked up the tailgate and found the black-and-white kitten sitting on his golf bag.

He brought the kitten home. This time he checked inside the golf bag.

"I took the clubs out and shook it and nothing came out," Albert said. "I reached my hand down in it and pulled out a little gray tabby, the one I wanted to keep."

It was Mercedes.

Her next ride was on Friday when Albert left for a business trip to Charleston, W.Va. He stopped at a friend's home in Chester, W.Va., in the state's Northern Panhandle.

"He wanted to see the engine in my Mercedes," Albert said. "When he looked inside he pulled back and said, 'Jim, there's a dead kitten in here.'"

Albert said he saw a small paw sticking out from the grill of the car.

"I tapped it twice and it was stiff. I thought it was dead until I looked behind the grill and there she was looking up at me. She was traumatized, but otherwise there wasn't a mark on her. She was sitting there only 3 inches from the fan."

Albert said he couldn't take her on his business trip so he dropped her off at the nearby Hancock County Animal Shelter in New Cumberland.

He told Debbie Aguilar, the shelter's director, about the kitten's ordeal and Aguilar named her Mercedes.

Aguilar said Tuesday that Mercedes tested negative for feline leukemia and feline AIDS. She was given her shots and a bath and put in a cage with several other kittens her age.

"She's doing fine," she said.

Mercedes had not been adopted as of Tuesday.

"We have 70 cats here, but she stands out because of her story," Aguilar said. "Anytime an animal comes in with a story, it's easier to adopt them out. Mercedes is an exception because she took such a long ride in the car. She's a real cutie."

Albert said he told Aguilar that if Mercedes wasn't adopted by Friday, he would drive back to New Cumberland and pick her up.

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