Kitten survives car crash, fends for self before being found

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A gray housecat named Cleo is finally going home after surviving a car crash and fending for herself in unfamiliar territory for several days.

The 7-month-old kitten ran off after her family was involved in a car crash while moving from Utah to Washington on Nov. 28, reported The East Oregonian . Amanda Egan said she was driving with her three children, Cleo and Irene, the family’s Chihuahua-pug mix, when one of the van’s tire gave out.

“The van started to shake. The tire on the driver’s side blew apart,” said Egan. “I tried to move to the side, but we swerved and rolled over and landed on the top.”

Egan and her daughters were not hurt, aside from scratches and bruises. She learned later that the dog ran into traffic and was killed.

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The family stayed in Pendleton, Oregon, for three days to regroup. They rented a trailer and searched unsuccessfully for the cat before setting off for their new home in Bellingham, Washington.

The girls — 5-year-old Elinor, 3-year-old Molly and 1-year-old Adeline — cried for several nights, Egan said. Molly slept every night with two stuffed animals she got from the EMTs the day of the crash, both of which she’d named Cleo.

She didn’t know it, but about a mile north of the crash site, the original Cleo had taken shelter in a hay barn. Pendleton resident Robin Harris said she saw a blur of motion and spotted the kitten scampering into the rafters. When she noticed the polka-dotted collar with bright pink tags, Harris climbed onto a stack of hay to get a closer look. The kitten snuggled into her arms.

“I don’t know how she survived for two weeks with the temperatures we’ve had,” Harris said, “and I saw two coyotes just recently.”

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Two weeks after the car crash, Harris called the number on the tag.

“I have this gray cat,” she said. “Her name is Cleo.”

Egan said she was both incredulous and exhilarated when she got the call, and quickly shared the news with her daughters.

“They were so excited when I told them Cleo had shown up,” Egan said. “Their mouths were wide open.”

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Harris serves on the board of the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter and is working on a way to get Cleo back to her family. If she can’t find someone headed to the Seattle area soon, a board member will likely add Cleo to a group of animals she’s taking to Portland and meet the Egans somewhere nearby.