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Minnesota man finds beloved cat after it rides 400 miles under his truck

Percy the Cat, who customarily rides in the truck cabin of his owner, St. Paul trucker Paul Robertson, escaped from the truck in Ohio on Feb. 24, 2017, after engaging an electric-window control. Robertson spend the day looking for the cat, but then had to continue on his route. At a stop some 400 miles later, the cat emerged from the truck's undercarriage. (Courtesy photo)

ST. PAUL—Pro tip for motorists with feline copilots: If kitty gets away while you're on the road and you can't find the pet, try checking the undercarriage.

As a case in point, we give you Paul Robertson, a St. Paul trucker who lost his cat Percy while sleeping off a case of food poisoning. Percy escaped, seemingly never to be seen again, after engaging a window power control.

Robertson hunted high and low for his beloved companion, with guidance from Facebook friends, but the heartbroken man finally had to give up and get going.

And then a miracle happened. About 400 miles down the road, a stinky and very unhappy but otherwise generally OK Percy emerged from beneath the vehicle. The cat had apparently clung to the undercarriage the entire way.

Robertson has detailed his cat saga in a series of Facebook posts that are making the rounds.

Robertson said he awoke in the wee hours of Feb. 24 in Eaton, Ohio, while trying to shake "rampaging food poisoning," and he saw that the electric window near Percy's perch was open.

He knew the cat hadn't been stolen but had managed to open the window, a stunt the critter had pulled off once before. The window control was working because Robertson left the truck running in order to keep the air conditioning on and sleep more comfortably.

"I've been searching this rest area now ever since, calling his name and rattling his dry food bag," Robertson wrote on Facebook. "Nothing. I have no idea when he got out. He could be miles away. And there's a storm coming. And I'm still weak and nauseous. So I'm resting a bit before I go out looking again.

"This is why this day can bite me," he said. "I feel awful."

Robertson posted a map of his location, which allowed Facebook friends to provide guidance in the search, along with moral support. One person even started a GoFundMe crowdsourcing campaign to raise money.

"Thanks for all the good love and good tips everyone," Robertson wrote. "You are awesome."

By nightfall, though, Percy had yet to materialize as the weather began to deteriorate.

"Cold, windy, snow starting to blow sideways," Robertson wrote. "Percy hates weather like this. I wish he'd come back. 2 hrs 15 min til I go."

The next morning, the heartbroken trucker reluctantly had to resume his journey.

"I've had to leave without him," he said. "I feel like the worst cat dad ever."

His next 400 miles or so were grueling, with snow and rain hampering his visibility, and "crappy old dirt roads (with) potholes, puddles, you name it" to make things worse.

Then, at one of his scheduled stops, while walking in the darkness, he got the surprise of his life.

"AS I turned back from the shed to the truck I stopped and couldn't believe my eyes," Robertson wrote. "Because who should emerge from underneath the truck but ... Percy!!!

"He was cold and miserable and a bit wide-eyed," the trucker said. "He stinks like 400 miles of bad road and old truck ... but somehow this amazing animal rode with me all day today hanging onto the undercarriage! Those of you who said 'He probably hasn't gone far' were definitely right. Those of you who said he'd come back home, you were right too! Last night when I was searching with Marc in the rain he was probably snug under the truck the whole time!! He just didn't want to come out when I searched there just about every hour. The little creep!!

"But I don't care. I scooped him up and we were soon back together in the truck, cuddling and hugging and purring and happy as can be. He's now sitting in the driver's seat, probably warm for the first time in 40 hours, belly full, snoozing peacefully. Although he reeks like an old tire I haven't the heart to bathe him right now. Let the poor guy rest."

By the next day, Percy was still washing off the road grime.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.