Forsyth County Fire Station 7 responded to a nonemergency call for assistance Aug. 19 when residents along Mountain Top Place reported a thunderstorm trapped two kittens in running water.
Five feral kittens hid under a raised storm drain seeking shelter from the late afternoon thunderstorm. The structure was in a wooded area in the backyard of Doug and Michelle Ward.
The couple had noticed a cat weeks ago and found her nursing a litter of five kittens.
“She’d eat the food I’d left her, and recently she came into my garden,” Michelle said.
Eventually the feline grew comfortable enough to rub against Michelle’s legs.
On the day of the storm, the mother cat tried to move her kittens away from danger and into the woods. As she transported them individually, the last two somehow fell in the drain.
Doug went to the street and lifted manhole covers on both sides, following the flow of the water in an effort to grab the kitten as it travelled through the system.
As he stood watch over the hole, he cautioned a dog-walking neighbor about the openings and explained the situation. The neighbor called the nonemergency line of the Sheriff’s Office.
Moments later, firefighter Zac Coleman and two other firefighters arrived on scene.
After assessing the situation Coleman climbed down into the pipe to capture the missing light tan kitten. Meanwhile, the mother had slipped back to the storm drain, grabbed another kitten and carried it off to the woods.
At that point, two felines were unaccounted for, one tan and the other tiger-striped. Soon after, the Wards rescued the tiger-striped baby, and it was placed in a towel-lined container where its mother could find it when she returned from hiding its siblings.
Coleman climbed down three different drains looking for the tan feline. The plan was to wait for the kitten to reach an opening, and Coleman would catch it with a net.
Almost 20 minutes later, with the kitten not moving toward the opening, rescuers determined that the commotion was doing more harm than good.
The firefighters replaced the manhole covers and left the scene.
“I went out about 30 minutes later, and the orange kitten was gone and so was some food,” Michelle shared.
The quiet paid off as Michelle reported she had spied the mother cat with the tan kitten before dark that night.
She also reported that the mother had come out of the woods to visit the next morning.
“I’m hoping she’ll bring her babies around,” Michelle said.
The plan is to capture the mother and have her spayed and released. As for the babies, the hope is to try to domesticate them if they can be captured. The age of the kittens has not yet been determined but according to Ward, the mother is still nursing. It is not known how many males and females are in the litter.