BY THEAGE ON AUG 20 2009
A Kiwi cat has tried to imitate the bad guys in horror films with a dangerous stint spent clinging to the underside of a car for 100 kilometres.
Levin couple Kevin and Sandra Stent noticed four-year-old Poppy, a Burmese cat, was missing after a visit from some friends 3 1/2 weeks ago, but were assured no felines were stashed away in their car.
Mrs Stent thinks Poppy must have climbed up under the car and held on all the way to Hunterville, about 100 kilometres from home.
She seems to have stayed on board while the car stopped in Palmerston North for about two hours but must have either jumped or fallen off somewhere near Hunterville.
For the next three weeks she foraged for food and nursed her injuries until Waituna farmer David Guylee noticed her lurking around his neighbour's property.
Mr Guylee said it was lucky Poppy was wearing a tag.
"We're trying to get native birds back around here, so we're getting rid of all the feral cats.
"Any wild cats get a bullet, and Poppy would have got one too if she hadn't had that collar on."
Realising she was someone's pet, Mr Guylee trapped Poppy and took her to Feilding SPCA, where manager Jo Finlayson spent the next two days trying to find out where the cat belonged.
"I probably made about 30 phone calls there was a cellphone number on her tag but the last three numbers had been chewed so I couldn't read them. In the end I just fluked it."
Mrs Finlayson said Poppy was "pretty thin, and pretty scared" when she came in, but soon warmed to staff. She had a broken tail, scratches to her face and ears, and was malnourished.
The Stents' other Burmese, Soli, aged 13, was distraught at her loss.
"Every night he'd go out there and just cry. And every night since she's been back he's been grooming her, licking her, cuddling her," Mrs Stent said.
Since her return, Poppy has been getting the royal treatment, with regular meals of chicken to fatten her up.
"Poppy" with her owner Sandra Stent.
Photo: Kevin Stent, stuff.co.nz
This week she will have a check-up and if she is well enough, her tail will be amputated. She will be left with only a stump, but her family are just happy to have her back.