Samantha Bastoni of Pelham, N.H., is relieved to have her cat back in her arms — even if he did lose one or two of his nine lives in a recent adventure.
Tripp, a 9-month-old half-Siberian kitten, disappeared Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, when the cat still hadn’t returned, Bastoni got worried. She started searching the area around her home, with no success. Then a neighbor reported seeing the head of a kitten poking out of a storm drain grate.
The neighbor thought it was just a stuffed animal, until the the cat’s eyes opened and blinked.
Once area residents realized the poor kitten was hanging six feet in the air, wedged in so tightly that he couldn’t even meow, they got together and lifted the 100-pound grate out of the ground, then called 911.
Firefighters and paramedics from Pelham and the neighboring town of Windham, along with a local veterinarian, responded to the call. The vet sedated Tripp and the rescue crews set to work, first trying to lubricate the cat’s head with soap and pull him free.
But according to Pelham paramedic Robert Horne, the cat’s head was stuck so tightly it couldn’t be pulled free.
The firefighters then set to work with torches and a circular saw to cut away the grate.
The vet kept Tripp sedated throughout the ordeal and covered him with heating blankets in an attempt to bring his body temperature back up to normal. The firefighters administered oxygen and repositioned the cat several times to take the pressure off his neck.
Horne said the animal went in and out of consciousness throughout the rescue attempt.
Once the firefighters had cut the grate into a one-foot-by-one-foot square around the trapped feline’s neck, they transported him to a local emergency vet clinic. There, the Windham firefighters were finally able to release Tripp from his trap.
Bastoni and the fire crews suspect that Tripp may have been chased by another animal and dodged into a culvert to escape. But perhaps, not wanting to leave the same way he came in, he tried to crawl through the grate.
Tripp had scratched his back claws off in an attempt to escape. But other than that, the only sign of his ordeal is some missing fur — and perhaps one heck of a headache. Tripp is now resting at home and expected to make a full recovery.
Bastoni was overwhelmed with gratitude to see so many people join the effort to rescue her beloved kitten.
“I told one of the Pelham police officers that I felt bad that they’re doing all of this for my cat,” Bastoni said, “and she looked at me and said, ‘It’s a life too. It matters.’ “