It's kitty season, that time in early summer where baby cats are born, prowling around and sometimes getting stuck in car engines.
That's what happened - three times in one day - on Sunday in Palo Alto when a 1-pound kitten was spotted by three high school girls about 4:30 p.m. on Everett Avenue north of downtown mewing inside a parked truck, with no driver in sight, according to Police Lt. Zach Perron.
The girls called animal services, but Officer Jeannette Washington couldn't free the kitty either. She called police. That police officer was able to reach his hand down the window of the parked truck and pop the hood. And the kitty jumped out.
Into the patrol car.
Perron said the police officer started to drive away, thinking "job well done."
But that's when he heard the meek "meow meows" from inside his car and thought he was going a little crazy.
He called Washington over to his patrol car, and indeed, the kitten was stuck under his hood.
Eventually, the two were able to shoo the cat from outside the wheel well, and the small calico cat hopped out - again - down an alley into a "nice gentleman's garage" and under the hood of his Prius, said Animal Services acting superintendent Connie Urbanski.
Washington closed the garage door and after a two-hour hunt for the kitten finally coaxed her out.
"You should see her uniform, it's all dirty and full of grease," Urbanski said.
The kitten - underweight and without its guardians - is now at Animal Services getting fattened up, medically evaluated and neutered, Urbanski said. If its rightful owners come forward, the cat - nicknamed "Gigi" by the teenage girls - is theirs. If not, Gigi will be put up for adoption.
Urbanski highlighted that Gigi's rescue was a "good outcome."
But that every time this year - from mid-May to June - kittens are born and often escape. Each season Animal Services in Palo Alto responds to about 20 calls like Gigi's, Urbanski said, and in about half the cases, the cats end up dying.
That's because kittens often seek shelter in the warm, safe confines under the hood of a car, and drivers don't pay attention to the mewing inside.
If drivers can't get the kittens out themselves by honking or banging on their car hoods, Urbanski urged them to call Animal Services 650-329-2413.