Purr-fect ending for cat trapped in car's engine compartment

A North Babylon man called Suffolk County police on May 6 after he heard a different kind of purring from under his Hyundai Elantra's hood. His neighbor's cat was inside. While officers tried to free the feline, named Buddy, by removing one of the car’s front tires, the cat slipped out on its own on the other side and dashed toward its house. That's when one of the cops scooped it into a pet carrier. Although shaken at first, 20 minutes later Buddy was fine, sleeping on a couch inside its home. | Here's the story

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There was trouble in North Babylon Monday -- a cat in the hood.

It began when a homeowner heard a different kind of purring from under his Hyundai Elantra's hood and called police about 8:40 a.m. He had found his neighbor's cat stuck there, the caller reported.

First Precinct Officers Danny Parella and Matthew Colonna, responding to the call, arrived at August Road for their assignment: Free the feline.

Buddy's owner, Patrick Berbert, 17, said his indoor-only pet bolted when his father opened the door to get into the house about 6:30 a.m. Monday.

"I was really scared," Berbert said. "I honestly didn't think I was going to get him back."

Berbert had rescued Buddy when she was about 6 months old and meowing alone on the back deck.

"I set a trail of cold cuts into the house," he recalled, "and she just creeped in."

So Monday, when his mother promised he could get another cat if Buddy never came home, Berbert knew his cat couldn't be replaced. Not the Buddy who provided so many memories, including chasing a teddy bear; or the Buddy whose first veterinarian thought she was a male, hence the name.

So officers Parella and Colonna removed the front right tire to see if the cat could escape through the exposed wheel well. That didn't work.

Then two emergency services officers -- Mike Simpson and Walter Justincic -- arrived with an animal restraint pole and tried to secure the cat.

Buddy instead emerged by the front tire on the other side, Berbert said, and as he tried to grab him Buddy dashed to the house, where Parella scooped him up into a pet carrier.

It was about 10:25 a.m. and Berbert said the neighbors, friends of his father, were "understanding" and not miffed at Buddy.

But someone was.

"I was mad and I told her she was punished," the teenager, who had to stay home when his parents left for work, joked after thanking the officers.

Indoors, Berbert said, Buddy balked at leaving the carrier.

Five minutes passed. Then like a repeat of the cold cut trick, Berbert enticed her with food.

"I shook her Crunchy box and she came out," he said.

"She was fine after like about 20 minutes. She went on the couch and fell asleep."

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