Kitten in a Storm Drain

The way I look at storm drains has significantly changed over the past several years.  More cats and dogs than we ever wanted to know about use these storm drains to safely go from place to place, and to get a little bit of perceived security.  We have no idea how many animals die in the storm drains.  During rainstorms, we always worry about newborn babies drowning.

During the spring and summer, the calls about kittens meowing in these drains increase.  It could be a combination of more kittens being more and more people walking in the nice weather.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman who was walking her dog along Franklin Turnpike called to say she had heard a small kitten meowing in one of the drains.  The shelter manager, April, and I left to see if we could find the kitten, and we called Lynn, the board president, to meet us there.

When we got to the approximate address we had been given, the cell phone rang, so I stayed in the car for a few minutes to answer some questions.  Lynn had not arrived yet, so April walked over the sidewalk by herself.  She got down on her stomach so she could listen to any sounds coming from the storm drain.  She not only heard, but saw a four week-old kitten beyond arm’s reach.  About the same time that Lynn arrived, I walked over to the storm drain.  Lynn threw a little bit of canned food down into the drain to coax the kitten to completely come out of the pipe.  She, a little calico kitten, gobbled down the food, and then retreated back into the pipe.  April put a catchpole down into the drain, and Lynn threw some more canned food down.  Again, the kitten ran over to the food, but the catchpole slipped off her.  This time, she ran back into the pipe and did not come out again for a few minutes.

 By this time, nice people came out of their homes to see what was happening.  A deputy in the Danville sheriff’s department stopped to help us as he was on his way home.  He saw April lying on her stomach, and thought she needed medical attention.  Drivers slowed down, and asked if we needed some help.

The kitten started meowing again, so April and Lynn put the catchpole into place in the drain, threw down some more food, and waited.  We did not have to wait long; once again, the kitten was coaxed out of hiding by the smell of food.  This time, the catchpole did not slip off her body, and she was lifted to safety.  She was hungry and thirsty, but is fine and is now available for adoption.

When April and I were driving away, we noticed a Pittsylvania County sheriff’s department car with the lights on going slowly down Franklin Turnpike.  We had the same thought at the same time – someone called in a report of a woman lying on her stomach on Franklin Turnpike.  I called the emergency dispatch center and was told that, yes, the officers were looking for a woman who was lying on her stomach.  I told the dispatcher what had happened, and that all had ended well.

And – it really had ended well.  April and Lynn saved the kitten’s life, and, once again, it was proven that we live in an area that has a lot of nice people, including the woman who originally called in the complaint, all the people who asked if they could help, and then the people who thought they were calling for help for a woman who was in trouble.

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