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'That's A Cat!' Video Star Has Been Identified And Is Doing Fine

Here's a word problem for you: How fast can a video show up across all social media platforms and local and national news(ish) programs when it captures a terrified cat clinging to the roof of a minivan that's traveling nearly 60 mph? ... And how long before someone finds out its name?

The answers are six days and Rebel.

Ronda Rankin, who recorded the cellphone video in question, shot the footage last Friday sitting in the backseat of a car in Omaha, Neb.

"That's a cat!" Rankin's daughter can be heard exclaiming, putting an end to a debate among her family members about whether they were seeing a raccoon tenaciously hanging on or some other animal.

"There was nothing on that roof for that cat to hold on to. So I have no idea how it was staying up there," Rankin told KTNV News.

Rankin said she yelled at the driver of the maroon van to pull over. "Cat! There's a cat on your roof!" she shouted across the highway.

Meanwhile the gray and white cat, who is aptly named Rebel, according to Thrillist, can be heard meowing for its dear life as it tries to secure itself against the wind.

The combination of the words cat, roof and stop understandably confused the driver, but once she got the gist of what Rankin was saying, Michelle Criger immediately slowed down.

"Just before [Rankin's husband] came alongside me and started honking, I thought I heard a 'meow,' and I didn't say anything to my boyfriend because I'm thinking to myself, 'Why would I hear a 'meow?' " Criger told KETV News.

Turns out, the cat belongs to Criger.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.

Criger was able to stop the car about 2 miles into Rebel's harrowing journey; now, almost a week later, he appears to have no injuries, although who knows how many lives this surly cat has left.

"When I got him off the roof of the van, he wasn't scared at all," said Criger. "He wasn't shaking, heart racing, nothing. We were more scared than him."

It is clear, Rebel is not a fan of the ensuing limelight. When a television news camera was thrust in his face, he tried to leap out of Criger's arms.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.