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Culdrose helicopter engineer dismantles car to save injured kitten’s life

9 August 2022
A stray kitten fell on her paws when she ran across the road at Culdrose in front of a cat-loving engineer who dismantled a car to save her.

Adam Hughes was heading home after a day’s work at the Royal Navy’s helicopter base near Helston when he saw what he believed was a piece of cardboard on the airfield inner perimeter road.

Only when it moved did he realise it was a small, injured kitten dragging her back leg behind her as she ran.

“I was going home to comfort my family because we had lost our own cat Orlando to renal failure the day before,” says Adam, who works as an engineer for Leonardo, the firm behind the air base’s

"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.”  

He got out of his car to pick her up, but she limped quickly away and escaped under a parked Volkswagen Golf on the opposite side of the road.

As Adam approached, along with two junior aircrew who had spotted the kitten’s attempts to run and stopped to help, the small grey-brown tabby jumped onto the exhaust pipe and into the car’s engine chamber. Despite the trio searching under the car and wheel arches with their phone torches, the tiny feline was nowhere to be seen.

The car’s owner was in a nearby hangar and, with the help of tools from a passing lorry driver who spotted the commotion, Adam was given permission to dismantle the Golf.

The kitten was eventually discovered inside a tiny hole between the wheel arch and liner.

“Luckily it was an older car so we could peel the liner back and when we did one of the aircrew was able to reach in to get hold of the kitten’s tail and unharmed back leg. Very gently, but with much squealing from the kitten, we were able to get her out,” the engineer said.

The tiny creature was safely delivered to Cats Protection’s Cornwall Adoption Centre near Truro. The vets had to amputate the broken leg but otherwise, the kitten – named Fergie by staff, in a nod to the Culdrose and the Budgie the Little Helicopter books written by the Duchess of York.

“Little Fergie is now with an experienced fosterer and learning how to walk as a tripod, or three-legged, cat and how to play with fishing rod toys, ping-pong balls and toy mice,” said the adoption centre’s Samantha Lawton.

“She has a long journey ahead of her, but has already shown she is a brave fighter and is beginning to really enjoy being among people and home-comforts.”

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

The kitten’s surgery and after-care have cost over £700 so far and anyone wishing to help contribute towards her care may visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cats-protection-cornwall-acfergiesappeal

Any funds raised above the target will be put towards the care of other cats and kittens at the centre.

Pictures: Adam Hughes and Cats' Protection

Fergie has a long journey ahead of her, but has already shown she is a brave fighter and is beginning to really enjoy being among people and home-comforts

Samantha Lawton

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