-- Talk about a bumpy ride. A lucky cat named Lulu survived the road trip of a lifetime, stuck inside the bumper of a car for 10 miles on a California highway.
An animal control officer managed to loosen the lucky feline from the vehicle.
"There was not much of that cat that was visible," Deputy Director for San Diego Animal Services Dan DeSousa told ABC News. “Kudos to the officers to take that effort to crawl under the car to locate that cat."
Despite a greasy coat of fur and a slightly sheepish expression, Lulu emerged unscathed. With no tag or microchip, staff brought the brown cat to a local shelter.
That's where Lulu's owner, 22-year-old Allison Smith, finally found her after a frantic search.
"I grabbed my skateboard and started looking through all the neighborhoods nearby. I started crying. I had a little flashlight and her treats I was shaking," she told ABC News. "Right before I was about to give up, I saw a family walking into their building, and they were the drivers. ...I couldn't believe that, it happened to be their car she was under," she said.
The Lee family, who Smith says saved her beloved pet, gave Smith the address of a local shelter, where she was reunited with Lulu and had a microchip implanted in her for future identification. The first thing she did when she got Lulu home was give her a much-needed bath.
"I took her in the shower and I gave her a 20-minute bath and had to scrub her down 12 times and use my fingers to scrub near her eyes," Smith said.
Smith adopted Lulu two months ago, ironically after she found the cat under her own car.
"She walked into my life. I am allergic to cats too and I haven’t had any allergies to her," Smith said. "I am going to get her a little name tag too."
Cats and other animals taking shelter inside car bumpers is not uncommon, according to animal services, most frequently in cold climates.
"Animals tend to seek out the warmth of a car engine overnight and the next morning someone gets in their car and drives to work," DeSousa told ABC News.
County of San Diego Department of Animal Services recommends that drivers tap on the hoods of their cars before starting the engine to scare away any animal that might have taken refuge from cold weather overnight.