A cat survived being trapped inside a car engine and driven several miles amid searing temperatures – astonishing its owners.

Leo, a one-year-old ginger tabby, had not been discovered until his owner, Scott Whittington, heard him meowing for help after he parked his Ford Focus in Coombe Road in New Malden.

That was after a three mile journey from his home in Cardinal Avenue, Morden, where Leo had managed to wedge himself inside the engine after crawling up underneath but could not escape.

Mr Whittington, a 39-year-old IT manager, said: “As I got the car parked I heard this meowing sound coming from the bonnet.

“The poor thing was wedged behind the battery in the corner of the engine. I tried to get him out but all the wires there was limiting hand space.

“Now I know why they say cats have nine lives – it’s just unbelievable.”

Mr Whittington called his mechanic, who had to take apart the car’s engine before he was able to remove the cat, which was unscathed but visibly distressed.

Mr Walker, a technician at Shannon Corner and Tyre and Exhaust, said he had never seen anything like it after nearly 15 years of fixing cars.

He said: “Being driven three miles in that state would have been distressing enough, but it’s even more remarkable because of how hot it must have been.

“The temperature of those engines exceed 100 degrees [Celsuis] internally or about 85 degrees on the outside – I don’t know how much longer he could have taken it.”

Leo had been trapped between the battery and the bulkhead, a partition within the car’s bonnet, and was rushed to New Malden Vets on Burlington Road.

Dr Claire Neuhoff confirmed the cat was unharmed but said her practice had seen several cats get trapped in cars in recent years.

She said: “We have had a case before where unfortunately the cat came in smashed to bits and could not recover. Another cat had to have its leg amputated after getting stuck in an engine.

“Leo was very lucky indeed and Mr Whittington did exactly the right thing by calling out the mechanic and then us.”

Mr Whittington’s wife, Shelley, said: “He’s just that sort of cat – he loves finding nooks and corners and sleeping in them.

“At Christmas we had to block up our chimney with a pillow because Leo kept trying to crawl up there. He obviously loves confined spaces.”