Check your car before you leave!
man pets cat on ground
Credit: Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer on Facebook

Firefighters in Spokane, Wash., this week were dispatched to a gas station to help a cat who was stuck—not in a tree, but inside the engine bay of a car. 

It obviously wasn't a great place for the little guy to catch some shut-eye. According to Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaffer, the cat had sustained burns on his paws and back, meaning that the engine had been on while he was trapped inside. 

Firefighters removed several parts of the engine to get him out, Schaeffer wrote on Facebook. Along with the burns, the cat was hot and lethargic upon his removal. The firefighters cooled him off and got him some water before he was whisked off to the local shelter.   

While this seems like an odd occurrence that required emergency responders, cats hiding in cars is more common than you might think. 

Why Do Cats Sleep In Cars? 

Mostly, it's because they want somewhere dark and warm to sleep, says Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, RBT, and Daily Paws' pet health and behavior editor. Finding a heat source, like a car with a still-warm engine, helps them conserve their energy as the weather gets colder. 

"The car is just convenient and creates a warm, high spot," Bergeland says. 

As fall turns to winter, you might want to start watching for any outdoor cats, especially if you leave your car out overnight. 

Check for a Cat in Your Car

With the weather getting colder, Bergeland advises checking under your car's hood, in the wheel wells, and around your car's tailgate to see if a cat has snuggled up into a nook or cranny somewhere. Maybe be a little louder than usual, too, so the cat hears you and has the chance to wake up and scamper away. 

If you have time, run your car a little bit before you drive off, or honk your horn to try to scare the cat out. 

"Cats won't immediately leave the car when the car turns on. They get scared and don't know what to do. So checking it over, honking the horn, [and] making noise helps to get them to come out," Bergeland says. 

That way, you can go on about your day without a stowaway.