September 21, 2012 01:00 PM

When an engine purrs like a kitten, as the everyday idiom goes, it usually means a car is keeping it slick and smooth on the road.

But if Elaine Talbot were to say the same about her own vehicle, she’d mean it literally.

The South Wales woman found an unexpected feline passenger stuck in the engine of her car. The 10-week-old black-and-white kitty was covered in oil after spending three days (including a 14-mile drive!) under the car’s hood. But she survived.

“I kept hearing meowing and eventually realized it was coming from under the bonnet [slang for hood] of the parked car,” Talbot tells the U.K.’s Metro. “She is one lucky cat. She escaped death by a whisker.”

Adds Talbot: “She’s definitely used one of her nine lives.”

Rescuers spent an hour freeing the kitten, who will now answer to a very appropriate name: Shell, a nod to her oil-coated fur.

Now recovering at the Cats Protection center in Bridgend, Shell was “terrified, dehydrated and underweight” when she was taken in, says manager Sue Dobbs. On Shell’s to-do list: a warm bath – and lots of old-fashioned T.L.C.

“I’ve heard of puss in boots,” Dobbs says, “but this was a puss under the bonnet.”

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