Kittens are usually rescued from too-tall tree branches, not storm drains. But a tiny black kitten defied stereotypes Monday when it was plucked from a downtown Clayton drain.
Four-year-old Camden Tolley first heard the cat’s cries as he walked to preschool with his mother, Sara.
“Camden heard a funny noise, and with it raining and in the morning rush, I wasn’t really paying attention,” Sara Tolley said. “Then I heard it and said, ‘It sounds like a kitten,’ and I could tell it was in trouble.”
When the Tolleys got to the preschool at Horne United Methodist Church, a teacher called 911, and Clayton’s animal control officer, Angela Lee, and a Clayton Fire Department crew responded. Firefighter Daryle Harris ultimately pulled the cat, a soaking wet mop of black hair, from the storm drain.
“It was about 12 feet inside the pipe, and we tried to talk it out, but it wasn’t coming,” said Harris, an eight-year Clayton firefighter,. “Then we pumped some water into the pipe and eventually he came on out.”
Despite the cold and damp – and front paws worn raw from trying to escape the pipe – the cat is in good condition, Lee said. “There’s no signs of being worse for wear,” she said.
Alley Cats and Angels, a cat-rescue group in Apex, has already committed to finding a home for the cat. Jill Walters, the group’s vice president, said a vet would check the cat for possible illnesses and would bring it up to date on shots. Lee estimated the kitten at a little more than four weeks old. Walters said it wouldn’t be eligible for adoption for another couple months.
He’s the reason the cat is alive.
Jill Walters, about 4-year-old Camden Tolley
In the meantime, Clayton firefighters threw out possible names around the firehouse – including Stormy, Monkey and Daryle. But Walters said the cat would be named after its savior – Camden.
“He’s the reason the cat is alive,” Walters said.
Tolley said her family hadn’t been thinking about getting a pet but would fill out an application to bring the rescued cat home.
“We really weren’t considering it, but when something like this comes across your path, then you think about it,” Tolley said. “And if it works out, then it was meant to be.”
The Tolleys, who moved moved to Clayton this summer, said Monday’s experience made them feel at home.
“We’re proud we moved to a town like this,” Tolley said. “I’m so impressed with Lee, the police and the firefighters for putting in all that effort for such a little life.”
It’s been an eventful year for Clayton’s animal-control officer. Lee said it’s not uncommon for her office to get a call about a cat in a drain, but this summer, it got a call about a deer in a drain. A couple months after that, Lee helped close the 1,500-mile gap between a blind poodle and its owner.
“These guys are rock stars for going down in that drain and rescuing the kitten,” Lee said of the firefighters.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson