WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Maria Pena never expected to hear what she heard when she arrived back home from food shopping on May 14. As she pulled into her driveway and got out of her car, the faint cries of what sounded to her like a kitten's meows stopped her in her tracks. As she turned around to look, she could not see the animal anywhere but the cries continued and were getting stronger.
"Where could this animal be?" Maria said she thought to herself. That's when her daughter Angie came out to help her with her groceries and also heard the kitten's cries, but they could not see the animal anywhere. After putting the groceries away, she rested at home for two hours.
"I was about to leave my house again to go to my part-time job for a couple of hours," Maria recalled. "But once I got into my car, I heard the cries intensify. I immediately got out of the vehicle and decided to call Angie and my other daughter Cris and we began to frantically search the area. We looked everywhere but still could not find anything."
It was then that they began to sense that the kitten was coming from somewhere inside Maria's Toyota Rav 4 and managed to pinpoint the cries from underneath the front left tire. As they all knelt down to have a look, they spotted a kitten's cute face poking out from behind the front left tire. She had been hiding inside the engine's under cover platform area the entire time.
"It was really unbelievable," she explained. "I was driving this whole time, and she was hanging on underneath my car. It's amazing that she was alright and survived because anything could've happened to her. She could've fallen out on the roadway or worse. I ran a few errands earlier that day too. It's a miracle!"
After a veterinarian visit, the 2-month-old golden striped tabby kitten was given a clean bill of health. Now named Harley, the lucky kitten has found a happy, loving home with Maria and her family.
"She's already become very attached to me and I've become attached to her. My family, too," said Maria, adding that she often wonders at what point that day Harley decided to climb in and hitch a ride as a stowaway. She believes she may have latched underneath the car when she was at a local grocery market and heard the store's cat recently had kittens.
"This was meant to be I guess. We just love her!"