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While most Americans were sleeping soundly on Thanksgiving morning, with visions of turkey feasts and football games dancing in their heads, firefighters, police, and animal rescue personnel were busy saving a tiny life.

Around 4 a.m. last Thursday, an El Cajon, Calif., resident heard pathetic mews from a 3-inch electrical conduit and called for help. Emergency Animal Rescue personnel responded first, but couldn’t get the kitten out of the pipe, which ran several feet into the ground.

Then the police came to help. They couldn’t do much, so they called the fire department. Soon, almost a dozen people were on the scene.

At first they tried to tempt the cat with tuna, in hopes of getting her to a place where they could reach down and grab her with the tools they had on hand. That effort failed.

Then the firefighters MacGyvered a catchpole using a slim jim (the lock-picking tool, not the meat jerky treat), a cable, and some duct tape. Now that’s ingenuity at its best.

Between the tuna and the improvised catchpole, the kitten was pulled, squirming and screaming, from her prison, three hours after the rescue effort began.

The kitten may not have been terribly thankful as she was pulled out of the hole with a noose wrapped around her, but after she calmed down I’m sure she was grateful to be free.

There’s no such thing as a holiday when you’re a firefighter or a cop, so these guys were already sacrificing time with their families to be available to keep the city’s residents safe — even the four-legged ones. Thanks, fellas. You rock!

Now this sweet black-and-white kitten has even more to be thankful for: One of the police officers involved in the rescue has adopted her.

Here’s the news story from NBC San Diego:

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

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