CANADA – An extremely tough little tabby cat is lucky to be alive after two train drivers just so happened to discover the feline frozen under the engine deck of their train in Wainwright, Alta.
Train conductor Brad Slater and engineer William Munsey were both called early Sunday morning to take CN train Q199 from Wainwright to Edmonton. The temperature was below zero with the wind chill, and the train was delayed.
A priority train was coming through Wainwright, and it’s protocol for other train crews to wait for and then inspect these trains coming by. Slater decided to kill time, walking past the train’s two engines, inspecting them in the morning darkness with a flashlight just to ensure everything was safe.
One engine had stopped working and was actually frozen solid.
“All I heard was the angriest, saddest cat cry,” Slater stated. “So I’m shining my light and there I see this little cat underneath the second engine above the wheels on a platform, frozen in snow and ice.”
Slater called over Munsey, who stated he expected the worst.
“I thought the previous crew had run over somebody or he found an arm or leg or something,” Munsey stated. “I’ve heard that voice before, and it’s not very good.”
Upon seeing the cat Munsey did not believe it would live. However, Slater said he’d keep it if it did. And when he called to it, the cat jumped right up into his arms.
The men brought the male cat into the train with them to warm it up with a T-shirt. Initially, it just sat there with its eyes wide open. It was trying to cry, but no sounds were coming out of its mouth, Munsey explained. It was missing part of its right ear, one tooth, and its paws were dotted from frostbite.
Slater offered the cat some water and small, ripped up pieces of beef jerky.
The cat happily devoured the food quick and then settled into the middle seat between both men for the remainder of the journey to Edmonton.
“Within five hours it was curled up on his lap … he was pushing his face against Brad’s arm,” Munsey noted “It was almost as if it knew how close it had been to dying and knew exactly which human had saved it.”
Frostbitten but very affectionate
Slater ended up naming the cat Q199, after the train — Q, for short. The cat is now living with him, his wife and three other cats in Edmonton. A veterinary checkup on Monday showed Q is an older cat, and may end up losing his other ear due to frostbite, Munsey said.
However, despite his ordeal, he’s affectionate and purrs nonstop.
“He’s more lovable and cuddly and affectionate than any of my cats I’ve ever had,” Slater stated. “He knows who saved him.”
Slater is now trying to find out just who owns the cat. He said he believes it may have got on the train in Saskatoon, which is where the train had stopped before resuming its journey west. The engine was working at that point, Munsey explained, and may have attracted the cat as a warm place to sleep.
Munsey went on to say that he doesn’t know how the cat survived when the engine stopped and the deck froze.
They only found the feline by chance — the men never really even had a reason to go outside in the cold to check the train, and animals certainly aren’t allowed inside the train.
However maybe it was just meant to be, he continued.
“I’m not a sentimentalist but … we kind of thought it was the right thing to do.”