Beltsville volunteer firefighters responded to a call last Monday that was a first for them: assisting a motorist who reported that a kitten was trapped in his engine.

"We've heard of cats in trees but never cats in engines," firefighter Tom Robinson said. "I said, 'Its either a kitten, cat or squirrel,' but then I saw its beady little eyes and knew it was a kitten."

About 1:30 p.m., the firefighters headed to the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Ewing Road. The BMW driver told the firefighters he repeatedly heard a "meow" sound as he was driving.

He had pulled over into a parking lot and hoped to gain assistance from several people and companies he called, but none could help. Finally, he called the fire department.

The firefighters had a difficult time finding the tiny kitten, but after 45 minutes, they coaxed it out by banging on different parts of the engine. Firefighters reported it was in good shape and was taken back to the firehouse for the rest of the their shift.

As Monday was Columbus Day, the firefighters named the kitten Colombo, and Robinson kitten-sat until he could find a home for Colombo.

"The kitten now has a wonderful home with a loving mother and father," Robinson said. "She's actually going to be a watchcat and chase mice in a barn."