Only 8 lives left for train stowaway who was too cool for his own good...

23 December 2016 - 02:00 By The Daily Telegraph, London

When a train conductor in Canada heard a sad, pained cry coming from under the frozen locomotive he was inspecting, he knew he had to do something.

Brad Slater with the cat briefly known as Q199.
Brad Slater with the cat briefly known as Q199.

In the freezing conditions, it would be difficult to survive trapped in the small space, and at first he thought the train had hit a person.

When Brad Slater shone his torch and saw fur, he realised it was a cat - covered in ice, frozen and stuck.

"He was sitting right there underneath the engine, above the wheels, frozen in ice," Slater said.

"I immediately called my engineer and he came down, thinking the worst - that I had found something else.

"There's no way I could leave him. We were bringing him on the train."

Slater, who suspected the animal could have hitched a ride for hundreds of kilometres unnoticed, held the cat in his arms to warm him up.

The cat, named Q199 after the train, was taken on board and hungrily ate the Canadian version of biltong his saviours offered him and slurped water.

Slater took the cat home, thinking he would take care of it until he found its owner.

"He's missing three-quarters of one of his ears," Slater said.

"His other ear's frostbitten. He's got little black cuts all over the pads of his paws."

Slater bonded with the animal, and they cuddled together in his bedroom for a few days, until a family from a town in Saskatchewan, which is a 12-hour train ride from where the cat was found in the town of Wainwright, Alberta, got in contact. It turned out he was Tiger, their missing cat.

Sadly for Slater, who had grown attached to the animal, which even rode in the passenger seat of his car, he had to give Tiger up.

The train conductor said this week: "Today was really tough but I didn't say goodbye. I said, 'See you later, Q.'"