Sunday, February 12, 2023
This ball of fluff, affectionately named Kitty, is lucky to be alive after curling up under the hood of a Chippewa Valley Technical College work truck, only to be discovered by two maintenance technicians who quickly found the kitten a good home.
As Andy Fenner was wrapping up his workday, he slid behind the wheel of his work truck to put it away for the night.
Along with the purr of the engine, he heard a distinct cry for help – the meow of a tiny kitten.
“As I was driving, I could hear this little meowing going on, and I didn’t really know where it was coming from,” he said. “I thought there was a cat in the cab of the truck.”
Fenner, a maintenance technician at Chippewa Valley Technical College, parked his truck near fellow colleague Paul Soden, who told Fenner to cut the engine.
“When he pulled up, I walked out of the shed. He’s like, ‘You’re not going to believe this,’” Soden recalled.
Fenner popped the hood, and that’s when Soden revealed a black ball of fluff curled up on the battery trying to stay warm, the men said.
“She was freezing and scared,” Soden said.
Fenner did a little coaxing to get the kitten untangled from the engine, then he took it inside CVTC’s Transportation Education Center on the west side of Eau Claire and warmed it up via snuggles.
It seems that curiosity might have saved this cat, because temperatures the night of Thursday, Feb. 2, dipped to a low of 3 degrees and felt like 13 degrees below zero. Fenner said he drove his work truck for an hour or more that day, making the engine nice and warm, likely attracting the kitten.
Saving the kitten from freezing temperatures was the first order of business. Then what?
“I’m not a big cat guy, but as I was holding onto her and she was purring against me, I thought I was probably bringing a kitty home,” Fenner joked.
Soden’s wife is allergic to cats, but he said his mother might have taken it.
The men didn’t have to think about it for long, because when they told their supervisor, Ben Martinez, about the kitten, he happened to be in a virtual meeting with Vince Mussehl, CVTC’s director of library services. Mussehl overheard the commotion and let the cat out of the bag that his family may take the kitten.
“Ben (Martinez) said he had to go figure this cat thing out, and I said, ‘OK, well, send me a picture because we’re kind of in the market for a kitten,’” Mussehl said. “We were waiting until spring or summer, but I thought this is the perfect opportunity right now.”
Martinez sent Mussehl a photo of the pint-sized fur ball, and Mussehl instantly became the proud owner of the CVTC kitty.
Mussehl, who has had the kitten for a week and named her Kitty, said he’s fairly sure the feline is a stray because of her demeanor. He will know for sure at the veterinarian appointment later this month when the cat is checked for a microchip.
For now, Mussehl and his kids are enjoying the addition to their family.
“When I brought her home, the first thing she did was eat quite a bit,” he said. “She hid under the furniture for the whole weekend. She’s still pretty skittish. I imagine it might be a bit of PTSD from the truck situation, but she’s definitely warming up to us.”
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