By Larissa Copeland
When Mark and Venee Lahue left Mustang for Tulsa last week, they thought they were taking their three sons on an overnight trip to the Gathering Place, a nice dinner and a trip to the aquarium.
What they didn’t know was an unexpected – and uninvited – visitor decided to hitch a ride.
“My husband heard what he thought was a cat meowing while we were driving up, but he thought it was one of the boys’ video games,” Venee Lahue said.
Turns out, the sound was coming from Snickers, a calico cat that had climbed under the hood and traveled with the family all the way from Mustang to Tulsa.
“He got to looking, and the cat was stuck between the motor mounts and the fire wall,” Lahue said. “She was on a tiny piece of metal the entire way up there.”
Because the Lahues didn’t know if the cat was hurt or feral, Mark Lahue – a police officer – went and spoke to some on-duty Tulsa officers directing traffic at a nearby construction zone.
“He walked over and said, ‘Hey guys, I know this is weird,’ and explained the situation,” she said. “They didn’t know what to do, so they called the fire department.”
That’s when Unit 23 showed up. It took them about 10 minutes to free Snickers from her hiding place.
But that presented another problem. Snickers was obviously not a feral animal, but she didn’t belong to the Lahues, and the family was planning to stay in Tulsa overnight so they couldn’t bring her to their hotel room.
“So they took her back to the station,” Lahue said.
“We didn’t want to just call the animal shelter,” said Tulsa Fire Department public information officer Andy Little. “We called some of the media outlets, thinking maybe they could run a story on the cat. We also ran her story on social media.”
Snickers spent one night in the fire station. Firefighter Aubrey Emerson took Snickers home with him the second night.
“If this was our cat, we would want someone to do the same thing for us,” Little said. “It’s always about helping the community, doing what we can for citizens and neighbors, and that’s what they do.”
After the second night, Rother got a call from a friend who knew the cat was missing.
“He texted me a picture of the News 9 article and asked if that was my cat, and I replied, ‘Yes! Yes that’s her!'” Rother said, laughing.
Rother said the family had noticed Snickers missing when their other cat, Cheeto, appeared without her. If the cats aren’t together, they tend to stay in the garage, she said.
“We thought maybe something got her, or we thought, as curious as she is, maybe she could’ve ended up inside someone else’s house,” Rother said.
As it turns out, Snickers has a reputation for sticking her nose in places it doesn’t belong.
“I’ll say she is probably one of the most curious cats we’ve ever had,” Rother said.
“We don’t know how or why she got up under the hood, if she was being chased by dogs or whatever,” Lahue said.
After contacting the Tulsa Fire Department, Rother and her family traveled to Tulsa to bring Snickers home.
Except Snickers had one last trick in store.
“Ironically, right before they (the Rothers) pulled into the fire station, the cat got into one of our fire trucks,” Little said. “She was under the hose bed, and it was very difficult to get her out. It was all on facebook live, so it was a fiasco. But it was funny to some. And that’s kind of her M.O. – she’s done that kind of thing before.”
Now that Snickers is safe at home, Rother said she’s acting normally.
“She’s doing pretty much the same kind of stuff,” she said. “When we let her out of the car, she just kind of walked around. She knew where she was, and then she and our other cat were smelling each other. It’s like she never left.”