Cat trapped in car dashboard a mix of Yin and yank
Calls for help with getting cats out of trees or off roofs are nothing new to Tisbury police officers. But Mr. Yin, a Siamese-mix, provided a new twist on an old tale last Thursday afternoon, when he got trapped inside the dashboard of his owners' Nissan Murano.
Looking forward to a month-long Vineyard vacation, Tony and Louise Argulewicz had an uneventful four-hour drive from their home in Kingston, N.Y., to Woods Hole that day. Mr. Yin convinced them with howls of protest early in the trip to release him from the confines of his cat carrier. Once they did his bidding, he rode contentedly the rest of the way in Ms. Argulewicz's lap.
Mr. Argulewicz gave Mr. Yin to his wife as a Valentine's Day gift about a year and a half ago. It took them almost a year to tame the shy, skittish cat, now two years old, adopted from the Ulster County ASPCA.
So when they arrived at Woods Hole, Mr. Argulewicz said all the noise at the Steamship Authority (SSA) dock spooked the timid Mr. Yin as they waited in line to drive onto a mid-afternoon ferry. The fearful feline headed for refuge on the floor under his master's feet, beneath the steering wheel.
Apparently that didn't feel quite safe enough, so Mr. Yin, who probably weighs about 12 to 14 pounds, found an opening under the dashboard, wormed his way up inside - and got stuck.
At first his owners were not concerned, figuring he would come out during the crossing. Ms. Argulewicz said she looked up under the steering wheel and could see the cat. She tried luring him out with some tuna but got no response.
Mr. Argulewicz began to worry whether the opening into the dashboard would also allow Mr. Yin access into the engine compartment. An SSA crewmember suggested he should stop at the Tisbury police department for help after disembarking.
Mr. Argulewicz parked near the police station and tried to reach up and pull the cat out. Mr. Yin didn't budge, so Mr. Argulewicz enlisted aid from the Tisbury police department.
Sgt. Robert Fiske and Officer Michael Gately tried to help, as did Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Tracey Jones. Unable to free the cat, they suggested the couple head to Courtesy Motors around the corner on Beach Road.
Mechanic Mike Southwick assessed the situation in an alley near the shop, and then had Mr. Argulewicz move the car into the shop. In the meantime, Ms. Jones, concerned about the cat's plight, walked over to offer her support and assistance in case he was injured.
Getting down to business, Mr. Southwick determined the cat was wedged between ducts for the air-conditioning and heating. "Did I tell you I'm allergic to cats?" he said to Ms. Jones, who spoke soothingly in a soft voice to Mr. Yin, while Mr. and Ms. Argulewicz stood by anxiously.
Unable to free the immobilized feline after dissembling more and more of the dashboard apparatus and wiring, Mr. Southwick finally told Mr. Yin in exasperation, "Suck it in, cat."
At last Mr. Yin's head appeared, blue eyes unblinking. Mr. Southwick gently pulled him out and handed him to Ms. Argulewicz, who gave him a quick hug and transfer to his carrier.
Mr. Yin watched in cool, or perhaps stunned, silence as the humans hugged all around.
"I can't say enough how friendly everybody was, and how compassionate," Mr. Argulewicz said. "We're very grateful to everyone. People were willing to stop everything to try and help an animal, and us. It's good to see that you still have such a caring community."
The incident was a first for Mr. Southwick, who has worked for Courtesy Motors owner Larry Conroy for 10 years. "I've pulled rodents out from under a dashboard, but never a cat," he said. "I'm just glad he's alive."
With a balance of Yin and yang restored with a little yank, Mr. and Ms. Argulewicz, who are retired, said they were looking forward to their stay in Vineyard Haven, where they have vacationed before.
And when it's time to head back to Kingston, Mr. Argulewicz said, "I can guarantee Mr. Yin will be in that carrier on the way home - all the way home."