Every good rescue includes a few key elements—kitten in distress, sketchy hiding spot, handwringing and home remedies, inappropriate attire, awkward smells, rescuer cameos and an opportunity for Mama Su to check my ego. A bartender and a ladder are helpful but not required, but a camera is—without pics, it never happened. Last Monday’s rescue had all that and an Amazon box.
The poster stated that her husband heard howling from a storm drain on his way to work and eight hours later, he—the kitten, not the husband—remained trapped and would surely perish if nothing was done. The post had dozens of anxious shares and comments—“Call the Fire Dept!”…Hang a sheet so he can climb out!”…”Call Kirkland!”—but only one found traction. I recruited Joey Phipps from his lunch break, tossed a ladder in the truck and headed to the site.
Ten minutes later, we unloaded the gear and were briefed by three Facebook first responders stalled by a heavy drain cover. I headed back to the truck for a flashlight, but by the time I returned, Joey had crowbarred the beast aside and, still in his bartending gear, climbed down for a look. He called up that he heard the little one, but he’d fled into the tunnel and was now nowhere in sight. Bah. Next step? A trap. We headed over to Joey’s apartment to bring one back.
Most rescues start off like stone soup, lots of cooks and no ingredients, but once you start stirring the broth, others appear like magic to better the stew. This one was no different. When we returned with a trap, Kat Soto skidded to a stop next to us, produced a can of Tiki Cat Tahitian Grill Sardine Cutlets “he’ll smell a block away” and fired up her phone to document the rescue. Sensing certain glory, I grabbed the trap and the Tiki Cat, gave a thumbs up to the camera and descended into the abyss.
My first journey into the Fresno catacombs involved chasing an orange kitten through a river of rancid water below Fulton Mall while Mama Su supervised from the street (“Did you just put that wet flashlight in your mouth? Ewww…”). By comparison, this cramped, dusty pit was an upgrade. I tossed an old Ford fender (“What the?”), flattened an Amazon box as a base and opened the Tiki…Boom! The can exploded like a shaken soda, spraying my clothes, glasses and surroundings with sardine juice. I spread what was left on paper towels leading into the trap and climbed out to towel off.
We returned to work to wait it out, and after 15-20 minutes of deflecting questions about the eau de Fisherman’s Wharf following me, I heard Joey from the patio—“Hey, come out!” The sardines had proven irresistible—he held up a wide-eyed kitten safe inside the trap. Got him!
“Want I should run him up to the house?”
We’re “full full” per Mama Su, but those eyes! I made an executive decision.
“Su will love him. Go!”
My work done I headed to a local restaurant to rehearse my pitch for this latest disregard for kennel capacity. Meanwhile, photos of the intake bath streamed in. Crazy eyes, big ears, purrito wrap…I’m good, right? Mama Su’s number lit up my caller ID.
“I thought you were at work.”
“A kitten in a storm drain? How is that not on brand?
I mumbled something about not eating all day and handed the phone to her bestie seated nearby.
“Ask Su what she wants to eat.”
I heard a screech of a barn owl protecting the nest and saw a startled look come over her friend.
“What’d she say?”
“ ‘B%tch, he’s at the bar while I’m cleaning kittens? NO room!’ ”
I wasn’t buying it. Who sends a purrito pics if they’re really mad? I armed myself with a crème brulee as a safety net and returned to find the crew had somehow managed to find a spot (imagine!) and Mama Su enjoying Kat’s eleven minute and twenty second video of my bald spot. “Here’s another nice angle…Look, you’re at 180 views…” Squid.