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Saturday, June 4, 2011

One life down, eight to go

PELHAM – Fire crews from two towns rescued a kitten from a storm drain Wednesday after the animal had been caught by its head for many hours, possibly even overnight.

Pelham and Windham fire departments worked for about eight hours to remove the 9-month-old cat from a cast-iron storm drain on Pineridge Road.

Pelham paramedic Robert Horne said the cat’s head was stuck so tightly it couldn’t be pulled free, even when lubricated with soap.

The firefighters then tried to cut away the grate with the Jaws of Life, which is used to pull apart vehicles in accidents; torches; and finally a circular saw.

Horne said the grate weighed “over 100 pounds” and was “at least 2 inches thick.”

They covered the cat with heating blankets and had a veterinarian administer sedatives during the process.

After the firefighters cut away most of the steel with saws, they transported the cat and what was left of the steel around its neck to Rockingham Emergency Veterinary Hospital, where Windham firefighters finally released the animal.

Horne said the cat, Tripp, is doing fine and recovering with his family in Pelham.

“We’ve had dogs through the ice before, but this is the first time I’ve been involved in something like this,” Horne said.

Fire crews gave the cat oxygen and repositioned him several times to take the pressure off his neck. Horne said the animal went in and out of consciousness throughout the rescue attempt.

“The cat was hanging,” he said. “It may have been there overnight.”

Horne said only the head poked through the square holes, so it must have entered the grate from underneath.

He said the cat might have come through a culvert and gotten stuck on its way out.

The cat was “average-sized” and not particularly overweight, Horne added.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com.