FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – With its umbilical cord still attached and eyes still closed, a gray kitten stuck in a pipe was rescued by Fort Lauderdale firefighters Thursday morning.
The tiny newborn, barely the size of your average gerbil, was dwarfed in the gloved hands of a firefighter who assisted in the rescue shortly before 9 a.m.
A crying woman directed rescuers to the kitten who was stuck in a PVC pipe in a hole about a foot deep in the 200 block of West Dixie Court., according to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Capt. John Heiser.
Firefighters dug around the area and made that sure no rocks fell on the kitten. There were no meows or movements.
“We pulled the cat out and to our surprise the cat was still alive,” Heiser said. “As soon as we started petting it, the cat started moving a little bit, and you could tell it needed some warmth.”
It wasn’t until firefighters were returning to the station in Engine 8 that the little gray furball became to pipe up.
“The cat started meowing in the truck. I don’t know whether it was the body heat of the firefighter who was holding the cat,” Heiser stated.
When the crew returned to the station, fellow firefighters joked about the entire cat rescue. But as soon as they heard the tiny kitten meow, many stepped up to help. The kitten also instantly drew the affection of many various strangers while being broadcast live on Periscope.
A few suggestions for names were made: Piper, Smokey, Grace, Catastrophe. But it was Hope that got the thumbs-up.
Little Hope was soon placed in a box next to a heater and fed milk from a syringe. A division chief quickly found a foster mom for the kitten who needs to be fed every two to three hours. It is believed to be no more than a day or two old.
Once the kitten is about three months old, Hope will likely be ready for adoption through the Beyond Nine Cat Rescue Inc. which is located in Oakland Park, said Nicole DeGrace, one of the nonprofit’s founders. The nine-year-old group currently has approximately 250 cats that need homes.
Unlike adult cats, kittens like Hope often have a much easier time getting adopted, DeGrace said.
But raising them to be old and healthy enough for adoption requires a “big commitment” from foster cat parents who dedicate themselves to making sure newborn cats like this wee one survive, she said.
Oftentimes, it’s the firefighters themselves who rescue the cats or dogs that end up taking the animals home. This time, firefighters took a pass because the tiny kitten needed such specialized and detailed care first.
“If it didn’t need 24/7 care my 8-year-old son would probably have a kitten right now,” Heiser said.