Christopher Smith was cleaning debris near the center of the Bong Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota last week when he heard the plaintive yowls of an unseen cat.
Peering over the edge, he spotted an orange tabby on a concrete ledge about 20 feet below him.
John Bray, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the cat was trapped about 90 feet above the frigid waters of Saint Louis Bay with no means to get back up to the bridge.
Smith called for help. Superior police officer Bradley Esler responded, and MnDOT co-worker Gary Wright joined the pair.
Their initial plan was to drop a nylon strap down to see if the cat would climb onto it.
“Our thought was we could hopefully put the strap down there and the cat could self-rescue,” Wright said.
The cat rubbed against the strap, but it was a no-go.
While contemplating next steps, Wright remembered a safety harness bag he had inside his truck. The trio quickly hatched another plan to run the strap through the handles and prop the bag open with a piece of wood. Smith gave up his lunch (a venison burger) to put in the bag in the hope that it would lure the hungry cat inside.
“It smelled good,” said Wright.
MacGyver would be proud.
They lowered the bag to the cat.
“Honestly, as soon as the bag touched down on that pier cap, the cat jumped in it and I pulled as hard as I could to close the bag and pulled it up,” Wright said.
The cat took the bait faster than you could say nom nom nom. Given the voracious way that the cat attacked the burger, Wright theorized that the tabby had been stuck on the platform for some time.
Once rescued, the cat was quick to offer up a purr of thanks to his saviors. He was so sweet and friendly that both Esler and Smith discussed adopting him.
A Humane Society representative from the Animal Rescue Federation in Superior took the cat into custody. Later they determined that the cat was a Manx, about 18 months old.
“I am interested in keeping the cat,” Esler said. “I went to visit it (on Thursday) and hes just a happy camper, jumping from person to person. I think he knows it was almost lights out.”
Esler added that hed like to find the person who he thinks “pitched it over the side” of the bridge.
It would really tick you off if you would have seen it down there, he said.
Wright concurs with Eslers assessment of what happened.
We found it hard to believe the cat got down there on its own, he said.
The Animal Rescue Federation will keep the cat for seven days in case the owner comes back to claim him, Esler said. If an owner does not materialize, either Smith or Esler will likely adopt him.
Esler already has a name picked out.
I was hoping this cat was a girl so I could name her Bridge-ette. But this cats lucky for many reasons, so maybe Lucky.[SOURCE: Duluth News Tribune]