Four day rescue delivers kitten safely in an unexpected way

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A four week old kitten nearly lost all nine lives had it not been for Lendi and Carlo of the maritime engineering company  Elgin Brown & Hamer South Africa (@ebhsouthafrica) who took the time to locate where the kitten’s desperate cries were coming from.  Monday last week Lendi and Carlo heard the kitten meowing somewhere inside a ship engineering warehouse located in Table Bay Harbour and called the Cape of Good Hope SPCA. 

Inspector Elani Graham was dispatched to the scene to assist.  On arrival, Inspector Graham narrowed the location of the meowing down to an open drain pipe at the back of the shipping warehouse.  “The 10cm diameter pipe went down at a 45-degree angle and was completely covered under a thick concrete slab”


Listen to kitty calling

On arrival the following morning the kitten had still not surfaced.  EBH as well as the SPCA inspectors were concerned the kitten may not survive and the only alternative left would be to go through the concrete.  Fire and Rescue were called to assist. A growing multi-disciplinary team consisting of Inspectors, engineers, an electrician, and a fireman team now faced the concrete between them and rescuing the kitten.  The heavyweights sprung to work with hammers, chisels, an angle grinder and eventually a jackhammer in their attempt to free the kitten.  Even the jackhammer struggled but managed to chip open the mouth of the pipe just enough to improve maneuverability, still not enough to get to the kitten stuck one meter into the pipe covered by concrete.  For a moment, hope was lost.

Watch rescue workers in action 

View the full rescue gallery

The inspector lowered food into the pipe with a guide rope in the hope that the kitten would use the rope to pull itself out.  The pipe being at the angle it was meant an attempt to get out without a rope would mean the kitten would simply slide back down.

On her return Tuesday morning the attempt to lure the kitten out failed and Inspector Graham called in reinforcements to aid in the rescue.  Senior Inspector Lizl Pienaar and Cadet Inspector Brian Arendse arrived with a snake camera (endoscope) to see if they could get a visual of the kitten in the pipe.  Minutes later, just over a meter into the pipe, they got the visual they were hoping for, the very young baby kitten who’s eyes were not yet fully open.  The pipe was not wide enough to push a hand in and no equipment other than the snake camera could make the impossible journey.  

The inspectors used a blanket and lowered food and water into the pipe again hoping the kitten would step onto the blanket and enable them to pull him out, but to no avail, kitty just ate the food.  Inspectors again placed food and water outside the pipe and left the blanket fixed for the kitty to pull himself out.

Cadet Inspector Brian Arendse had an idea, he googled for mommy cat calling her kittens and found a sound clip of a mother cat calling her kittens.  Miraculously the little kitten responded to the clip and started following the sound.  Moments later a little head peaked out just enough for Cadet Inspector Arendse to grab the kitten by the skin and managed to pull him out.  The entire operation broke into loud cheer when the kitten surfaced followed by silence as inspectors proceeded with a brief assessment to check the kitten’s vitals.  The kitten was spoiled with tinned mousse and immediately taken to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA hospital for veterinary examination.

Senior Inspector Lizl Pienaar said “It does not matter how long it takes, how big or how small, we will be there”

In the end it may have been neither man nor machine, but the calls of mother that moved a kitten to freedom

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