A KITTEN used up eight of its nine lives after miraculously surviving a 270km road trip from Dublin to Cork trapped in the engine block of a German tourist's hire car.
Svenja Dabbert and her two friends from Schleswig-Holstein were worried when, after parking their car outside a Douglas B&B in Cork, they heard a strange noise coming from the engine of their Nissan car.
After opening the bonnet of the car, they were shocked to discover a tiny kitten pressed against the inside engine housing.
Svenja and her friends had rented the car at Dublin Airport and drove straight to Cork where they intended to spend a couple of days.
They made just a single sightseeing stop at the Rock of Cashel on the way.
"We arrived in Dublin in Ireland on September 15 and we travelled to Cork on Wednesday. We had absolutely no idea there was a kitten anywhere in the car - we didn't hear any 'mewing' noises as we drove down," she said.
"We did hear noises in Dublin but thought it was the ring tone of a phone because people have such unusual tones on their phones," she added.
During their brief stop in Cashel the German trio thought they heard a funny noise from the engine and opened the bonnet to take a look but saw nothing strange and the car continued to operate as normal.
"We arrived at our bed and breakfast and when my friend looked out the window she saw a kitten sitting beside the wheel. We went down but there was no sign of the animal. We could hear her in the engine but when we opened it but could not catch her," she said.
"She stayed hidden so we thought that with the car parked overnight she might come out before we left yesterday (Thursday)."
When there was no sign of the kitty emerging from its adopted Nissan home, the German tourists asked the B&B owner to contact animal welfare inspectors because they were afraid starting the car engine could kill or maim the little cat.
The kitten was captured by the Cork Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) inspector - and by intrepid photographer, Daragh McSweeney has it was finally coaxed out of its Nissan hideaway.
"This is our first time in Ireland and that little kitten has helped to make it a holiday we will never forget," Svenja said.
It is believed the kitten must have wandered into the car hire storage park of Dublin Airport and climbed up into the car's engine compartment for shelter and warmth.
The kitten, which was shocked but otherwise uninjured by its daredevil escapade, was immediately named 'Maude' in honour of the B&B owner.
But the hair-raising experience is set to give the kitty 'paws' for thought before it opts for another road-trip.
The CSPCA is now looking for a new owner and home for Maude - preferably a non-car owner who relies on public transport.