A Moose Jaw cat that tried to find warmth under the hood of a car is on the mend after losing a leg.

The five-month-old little tabby had the accident late last year.

It's believed it crawled under the hood to avoid sub-zero temperatures and was severely injured when the motor was started.

It would have died were it not for the efforts of local veterinarians and the man who found her in the bitter cold, the Moose Jaw Humane Society says.

Tabby cat loses leg after crawling under car hood

Noelle the cat is on the mend after losing part of her leg when a car engine was started while she was under the hood. (Moose Jaw Humane Society)

"The vets at the vet clinic decided that it needed to be amputated. So, she had her surgery on Friday and they amputated her front leg and paw at the shoulder," said Stephenie Campbell of the Moose Jaw Humane Society.

The gravely injured kitten was patched up at Moose Jaw animal clinic before being taken to the humane society.

"She was purring like mad, although she must have been in a lot of pain," humane society shelter manager Ellen Williams said in a news release.

"She is just so sweet, happy and loving; nobody could resist her for a second. We all agreed she was a girl who needed saving."

Noelle, as the cat has been named, is scheduled to have surgery to amputate what remains of her leg, but is expected to fully recover.

William said prior experience with three-legged pets suggests Noelle should adapt quickly because she's quite young.

It is common for small animals to crawl under vehicle hoods during the winter. 

"We're always warning people, especially during these cold days of winter, to just give the hood of your car a little 'thump' before you start it up to make sure that there's no one sheltering under the hood of your car," said Campbell.