Kitten’s incredible journey ends at new home

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 30, 2008

Not many month-old homeless kittens are smart enough to toddleon to Brookway Boulevard and not only leave in one piece, but endup in a loving home.

But such was the journey for a small black kitten – later to benamed Elijah – who survived a traffic scare, an overnight stay inunfamiliar surroundings and an unexpected trip to an automobileservice center earlier this week.

Elijah’s adventure began Tuesday when he ran in front of JimmyPerkins’ Buick Lucerne at the left turn on Hampton Drive near theCracker Barrel Old Country Store.

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Perkins and friend Alvin Smith were going to lunch and certainlydidn’t expect to have any middle-of-the-road escapades when Perkinsnoticed the little bundle of fur attempting to make his way throughtraffic.

“I stopped the car and when I reached for him he ran up underthe car,” Perkins said. “The lady behind us said she thought hewent up in the wheel well.”

Not wanting to continue to block traffic, Perkins searched forthe kitten again for a second and then drove slowly into theparking lot. He said he thought the kitten would leave his vehicleby the time he finished lunch.

After driving home and putting the car in the garage for thenight, Perkins took the vehicle to Ole Brook Tire and Auto Servicethe next morning to have a leak in the tire repaired.

“They called us later that day to tell us the cat was ready,”Perkins said, laughing.

Ole Brook owner Steve Fitzsimmons said the kitten was politeenough to wait until the tire was fixed before causing any drama ofhis own.

“The guy who was fixing the tire kept hearing something andwondered if the car had an alarm system,” he said. “Of course anycat under that kind of trauma would be pretty excited, so he cameout after the tire was fixed and ran behind a stack of tires.”

Fitzsimmons said Elijah also wanted to tell his employees abouthis incredible journey.

“We put him in a box and he didn’t shut up the whole time,” hesaid about the cat’s meowing.

Fitzsimmons said finding a cat in a car was not unique, but hewas surprised at Elijah’s resourcefulness.

“We’ve seen that before – with kittens in cars – but he waslucky to survive that,” Fitzsimmons said. “A small kitten can getin a lot of places, but to ride as far as it did was amazing.”

Perkins’ wife Patti, who calls herself a “confirmed cat hater,”couldn’t even resist the little 8-ounce fluffball’s moxy.

“I really really tried to give him away,” she said. “I even sentpleading e-mails with adorable photos.”

Patti’s efforts were to no avail. As the Perkinses took littleElijah to the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League, Patti said her brain”disconnected from her mouth” and she told Jimmy to take them tothe vet instead.

“This little cat has gone through hell,” Patti said. “We tookhim to the vet and they clipped his toenails and washed him andcleaned his ears … poor little guy!”

Even the veterinarian agreed for a kitten that small to survive36 hours inside the wheel well of a car is unusual and miraculous.Hence the name, “Elijah,” Patti said.

“He really shouldn’t be alive,” she said, “so we knew we had togive him a biblical name.”

The Perkins’ 4-year-old granddaughter Ellie Slay has talkedabout nothing else, the family said. But her mother Holly said theydidn’t need another pet.

Elijah seems is fitting right into his new surroundings withEllie’s grandparents. The family’s other cat, Fluffy, isconveniently ignoring the new addition.

“She hasn’t said a word,” Jimmy said.

And Elijah looks like he’s happy to stay with the Perkins familyas well.

“He’s so happy to be here,” Jimmy said. “And he should be. Hewent to such trouble to get here.”