A stray cat was found in an engine Sunday in Kansas and adopted. Seen above is an undated photo of a stray cat in China. Reuters

Car engines aren’t generally a go-to for stowaways. But for one kitten in Kansas, hanging out underneath the hood of a family’s car as they made an 80-mile trip apparently seemed like the move.

The family noticed a cat crying from inside the car’s engine when they took a trip Sunday from the town of Shawnee to Clinton, Missouri. When they popped the hood, a spooked kitten ran off. Likely assuming that was the end of that, the family went out for a bite to eat before returning to drive back to Shawnee.

“On the way back, we heard, 'Meow!' and my son and I looked at one another and said, 'No way. There's no way this cat came back,” Kelly Hawthorne told WDAF, a local Fox affiliate.

But, yeah way, that cat had come back. And, now that cat — which the family assumed was a mostly healthy-seeming stray — lives with the Hawthornes.

As it turns out, there are a ton of stray cats living in America — enough for roughly one in six men, women and children to claim a mangy feline for themselves. Animal activist groups have estimated that roughly 50 million feral cats live in colonies across the country, from sea to shining sea.

That population is a bit of a problem for people with patio furniture, gardens or a distaste for the smell of cat urine. When cat colonies take over abandoned buildings or alleyways, people often soon begin to complain about the odor. Cats scratch up patio furniture and are known to poop in gardens.

Birdwatchers, too, often have an aversion to cats. Across the country, 3.7 billion birds are killed every year by feral kitties.

So, what’s to be done? Groups are working to address the problem in mostly humanitarian ways. The most frequent method is to simply neuter or spay the critters.