When rescuers from Catsnip, Etc. in Elkhart, Indiana, got a call about a mother cat who’d given birth in a storm drain, they rushed over to help.
But just as onlookers brought the cat family to safety, one lone kitten had another plan in mind — to go on an adventure she won’t soon forget.
“Employees at a local factory found a stray cat that had been hanging around and had kittens,” Missy McNeal, a foster for Catsnip Etc., told The Dodo. “By the time we got there, the employees had caught the other kittens.”
However, one kitten panicked and jumped into a spout that went straight down 3 feet. Rescuers couldn’t see her but heard her cries.
“The kitten had been down the pipe and crying for almost 24 hours before we were called,” McNeal said. “We knew those 4-week-old babies still needed their mom.”
McNeal concocted a plan to carefully feed a camera through a pipe beneath the cement to help see the kitten’s location. The dedicated team searched for eight hours with no luck.
“None of us wanted to leave the kitten overnight, but it was pitch black out and there was nothing more we could do,” McNeal said. “We put food down the tunnels, hoping some would reach her.”
When the team returned in the morning, they followed the sewer company’s recommendation — flush the pipes to draw the kitten into the open.
“With her lost in a maze of underground pipes, it’s all we could do,” McNeal said. “None of the pipes were big enough for anyone to crawl through and we needed a miracle.
Luckily, that miracle came. By the road, hidden by grass, the team located a manhole 75 feet from where the kitten vanished.
“Immediately, we saw the water flowing and heard her cries echoing through the pipes,” McNeal said. “And if we could find a small person, they could go in after her. So we put out a [public] plea.”
Watch the rescue story here:
Ashley, a volunteer, drove over to help.
“She went into the drainpipe and slowly inched her way along,” McNeal said. “She got so far into the pipe [that] she disappeared into the darkness and we could no longer see her.”
After about 30 minutes, Ashley found the kitten, who’d now been in the pipe for nearly two whole days. But now, she had to crawl backwards out of the drain while holding the scared kitten.
“The event took another 40 minutes,” McNeal said. “As soon as we could reach her, we grabbed her feet and pulled her the rest of the way out. The kitten was covered in mud, freezing cold and dehydrated.”
After warming the kitten up and giving fluids and food through a syringe, they brought the kitten —now named Piper — to her mom and siblings.
“She ran right to her mom,” McNeal said.
Now, Mom and babies have all been placed in a foster home, where they’ll be well-cared for — away from drain pipes — until finding their forever homes.