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'Worst case scenario' - Puddles the cat's near-miss in engine bay sparks warning for drivers

Puddles the cat nearly used up one of her nine lives last week. Now her owner from Auckland's Kumeū is warning others to be aware.

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Puddles the cat was tangled in the fan belt. Source: Supplied

Joseph Morgan turned on his ute's engine on a hot, sunny day, only to hear what he described as a "horrible screeching sound" and smoke pouring out.

He quickly turned off the engine, popped the bonnet to see what was going on and immediately knew something was very, very wrong.

"I lifted it up and it was fluff everywhere. It was one of those worst-case scenarios," he told 1 NEWS.

Puddles the cat has quickly recovered from her scare, entangled in the fan belt in her owner's ute. Source: Supplied

Morgan immediately recognised the fur colour as belonging to his family's cat, Puddles. 

He found her tangled up in the fan belt, unmoving.

"I went to reach down, just to touch her, and she sprang to life and started scratching me," Morgan says.

After some thinking on the best way to free her, he cut the fan belt and released Puddles from her ordeal.

Miraculously, she escaped uninjured.

"She was good! And then the truck was not so good ... it's now getting repaired," Morgan says.

The ute had to be towed away and is still being fixed.

While warnings are often issued in winter about the danger of stoways in engines, Morgan says he'd never heard of such a thing occurring in summer.

He's now encouraging other drivers to check for their own hidden guests, either by having a quick look or tooting the horn before starting up.

It's a warning echoed by the SPCA.

Joseph Morgan's ute had to be towed for repairs after he cut the fan belt to free his cat Puddles. Source: Supplied

"Motor vehicles are inherently dangerous," SPCA scientific officer Alison Vaughan says.

"Before starting your car SPCA recommends always checking your companion animals are safely enclosed, ensuring there are no loose animals in the vicinity of your vehicle and giving your car horn a honk or knocking on your car bonnet to wake up any potential stowaways."

As for Puddles, she's already recovered from her scare.

"As soon as she saw me [the next day], she just came up and started purring and rubbing against my legs like nothing had happened," Morgan says.

"She was fine, but it's definitely changed our approach to checking more."