The cat, an American longhair tabby named Boots, had wedged itself up behind the dashboard of a 2015 Dodge Journey owned by Boots' owner, Cyleena Harrelson, after running from a house fire in April at an adult foster-care home.
After neither the Albany fire and police departments could remove the cat, they called Mark Thomas Motors for help at about 10 a.m.
Technician Adam Horton came out with his tools, but after discovering it was no use, he made the call to bring the car to the shop for some major invasive surgery to get the cat out. When it was all over, almost three hours later, all six technicians in the shop had worked to pull the entire dashboard assembly from the vehicle and remove the cat safely.
"It was unreal," said MTM General Manager Mark Patrzik. "I've been in the business for 25 years and I've never seen anything like this."
Patrzik said the dashboard on the Dodge Journey is probably the most complicated to take apart. What would normally cost a customer $1,200, the dealership did for free.
"We're all animal lovers here," he said. "So we all decided, 'We've gotta get that cat outta there.'"
Patrzik said the entire shop basically shut down while it was "all hands on deck" to remove the cat. All the techs — Horton, Peter Burdett, Alec Sharpton, Aiden Horning, and Josh Bubick — made sure to close all windows, doors and other containers throughout the shop, just in case the cat bolted once free.
Although everyone worked to remove the cat, they all agree it was Burdett who ultimately pulled Boots from the vehicle. To do that, he had to remove more than 20 components and 60 bolts, screws and other hardware.
According to the manual, the task takes 12 hours. Burdett did it in 45 minutes.
"I was just going as fast as I could," said Burdett, who also described the task of removing the dashboard as "three layers of hell."
"When they first brought it in, I said 'Why don't you just put some food out and wait for the cat to come out," he said. But he soon realized that was not going to happen.
"He was so wedged in there, he couldn't even meow," said Horton.
"All we could grab was the tail, and if we pulled on it, we would have pulled it off."
Once Boots was removed, they said, he was very calm. After all, he'd just spent 12 hours wedged in a car.
Someone on the crew ran out and got Boots some cat food, and the Fire Department got the crew three large pizzas and some garlic knots from Pizza Amore.
As for Burdett, he said in his 12 years at his job, he's never done anything like this.
"I've seen mice and snakes, but never a cat," he said.
We would like to thank Albany Democrat-Herald for reprint permission.