A clever way to rescue a kitten from a sewer pipe: food-flavoured towelling

There is a neat way to rescue kittens from small-bore sewer and drainage pipes, which is to use a length of towelling flavoured with food, for example tuna. Towelling is best because it’s got more texture and it is easier for a kitten’s claws to get tangled up in it and to grab hold of it but I guess any suitable item of clothing would suffice. It is more suitable for kittens as they are lighter. You lower the towelling down the pipe, the kitten is attracted to the smell and hopefully instinctively grabs the towelling at which point the rescuer gently hauls it up. The kitten hangs on perhaps instinctively knowing that they are being rescued. The video on this page shows it in action.

Kitten hoisted from Colorado sewer pipe with towel rope
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Kitten hoisted from Colorado sewer pipe with towel rope. Photo: Screen capture/Aurora Fire Rescue/Facebook.

I was prompted to look this up because a radio presenter on LBC (a UK radio station) was talking about a recent rescue along similar lines. I can’t find that particular story on the internet but when I searched for this method of kitten or cat rescue a number of stories came up which tells me that it is not that uncommon although I didn’t know about it.

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This successful towelling rescue

The rescue in the video, and which is illustrated by the photograph, comes from the Aurora, Colorado, fire crew who shared the video of the rescue on their Facebook page. As you can see they used a white towelling rope very successfully. They believe that the kitten had been trapped in the sewer for about 24-hours. The kitten was about 8 feet down. This is a really neat and elegant way to rescue a kitten. I am sure that it does not always work because for obvious reasons it depends upon the kitten grabbing hold of the towel. They may be too frightened to move or perhaps are injured and so on. It would be the first method selected, I would have thought, because it is the simplest.

A failed example

A similar method was used on September 10, 2020 when a six-week-old kitten fell into an open sewer in Fort Myers, USA. A cat rescuer, Natalie, tried to save the kitten by inserting a rag soaked with tuna juice down the pipe in the hope that the kitten would climb up it. It didn’t work. Ultimately the kitten was rescued by the water department who dug up the road. An heroic effort deserving of a lot of praise.

Some more on firefighters saving cats and kittens

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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