By Japan News
The automobile industry has been calling for drivers to ensure that cats that have climbed into a car’s engine compartment escape before the vehicle is driven to prevent accidents and car troubles.
Nissan Motor Co. started a campaign called “Neko Ban Ban,” or “Knock Knock Cats,” in 2015 that encourages people to tap a car’s hood so cats will run off.
The initiative has become widely recognized since then, garnering more than 1 million posts on social media.
“With some extra compassion, we can save lives,” a company official said.
One day in September, passersby gathered around a parked car on a street in Yokohama because they heard meowing from under the hood. They tried to reach the cat from under the vehicle and called out to it, but the cat stayed put.
After two hours of effort to no avail, they contacted the car’s owner with the help of the local police. When the owner opened the hood, a black kitten appeared from a gap in the engine compartment and quickly dashed away.
“I have a cat, too, and I’m glad the kitten was saved,” a woman helping out said with relief.
According to the Japan Automobile Federation, cats often climb into a warm engine compartment from under the car or sit on the tires, trying to avoid the cold or rain. If the car starts, the cats could get caught in moving parts or get run over when they jump down in surprise. In addition, car parts could be damaged. Last year, JAF received 21 calls in January and 284 calls in June nationwide to rescue cats.
According to the JAF Kanagawa Branch, various measures can be taken to prevent such incidents, such as tapping the hood to make a loud noise, not moving the car immediately after starting the engine, or honking the horn. It is also effective to place cat repellent items near a car.
The automobile industry is making efforts to raise awareness of the situation.
As part of the Knock Knock Cats campaign, Nissan created a dedicated website where a special logo can be downloaded for free and made a video about the initiative.
There were more than 1 million posts on Twitter and Instagram tagged with the hashtag “#NekoBanBan” as of Jan. 25.
“We hope more people will become aware of this,” a company official said.
In Mazda Motor Corp.’s owner’s manuals, the Hiroshima Prefecture-based company requests that drivers make sure no cats or other animals are in the engine compartment or under the car.