AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – They say cats have nine lives, and one Austintown feline is lucky to be alive today after getting stuck in the pipes underneath a home.
An Austintown family thought they lost their pet for good when it went missing 10 days ago. They looked everywhere for the cat — everywhere, but underneath the house.
On Thursday, the family heard the cat making noise in the basement, but they were unable to find it. That’s when they realized the noises were coming from the pipes underneath their home.
The cat had crawled into a sump pump and became trapped in a footer drain, unable to back out of pipe or walk forward.
Christopher Graham, an employee of Mr. Rooter in Youngstown, said he was on his way to an appointment when he got the call asking if he could get the cat out.
“We called that customer and ran right over here,” he said, adding that the call was quite unusual for the plumbing company.
Graham and his co-worker, Joe Kijowski, used a long, tube-like camera down the pipe to search for the six-month-old kitten. They then used a sledgehammer to break apart the floor.
That’s when they ran into the kitten.
“We put our camera in and located the spot where the cat was. It did not look good. The cat looked like it wasn’t moving,” Graham said.
Kijowski’s cell phone captured video of the procedure.
“Once we got the pipe exposed, we cut the pipe open, and we kept working back by 10 inch increments, and finally, we got at the cat’s tail,” Graham said. “Knocked it on the other side of the pipe, and he backed straight out. He was alive.”
The kitten was cramped in a tiny ball and was unhappy with rescue attempt, but after being given food and water, it appears to be recovering.
Graham said while Mr. Rooter was called out once for a ferret in a similar situation, it was the first time the company has rescued a cat.
“The ferrets usually are known to get into problems, not cats like this,” he said. “It’s amazing. When you talk about nine lives, it has definitely used about eight of them on this.”
To top it all off, the family was given a special treat from their pet’s rescuers.
“It’s unfortunate,” Kijowski said. “Who expects something like this? So absolutely, I went to the homeowners and told them there would be no charge for this service.”
As the family’s way of giving back to the guys at Mr. Rooter, they decided to honor the company’s name.
“From what I understand, they’re going to name the cat Mr. Rooter, and it’s a female cat, so I don’t know how well that’s going to work,” Kijowski said.