Japan ’s automobile industry has been pawing at the nation’s drivers to help put the wheels in motion for the “Neko ban ban” plan and ensure the country’s cats do not use up all of their nine lives. The scheme, which translates as “Cat, knock knock”, was originally thought up by Yokohama-based car maker Nissan Motor Co in 2015, but is now going viral on social media . The initiative encourages drivers to thump the bonnets of their cars before they start up, to make sure no cats have taken refuge on the warm engine during the colder seasons. Japan’s ‘Rabbit Island’ bunnies under attack as tourism invites predators The aim is for the cats to run off before the driver revs up as the animal could damage the engine or be injured – or worse – when the vehicle is in motion. “Lives can be saved with a little consideration before you get in your car,” the company said in a statement. “Check the engine space and listen for sounds [of a cat].” According to the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), cats often seek out the warmth of an engine in the winter months or try to get out of rain or cold winds by laying on top of tyres. The JAF received 21 calls in January last year for help extricating cats from car engines across the country. The problem is not limited to the cold winter months as it also intervened in 284 recoveries in June, which is Japan’s rainy season. The federation also recommends a driver hitting the horn before starting the engine to encourage those felines taking cat naps to get clear of a vehicle, while there is a selection of cat-repellent sprays available to dissuade serial feline offenders, it said. To promote the campaign, Nissan has added a dedicated page to its company website featuring a promotional video and is providing stickers featuring a cartoon cat leaning on a car tyre to promote the initiative. Mystery of Japan’s ‘cat island’ poisoning deaths may have been solved Other auto firms have also taken note, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, that the Mazda Motor Corp added a passage to the owner’s manuals for its vehicles suggesting drivers make sure that cats or other animals are not sheltering in the engine bay or under the car before they set off. “Neko ban ban” pages on social media, including Facebook , Twitter and Instagram , have attracted more than 1 million views.