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If we’re lucky, we have friends we can count on. Friends who will come to the rescue when we hit a rough spot. Such was the case for one poor little kitten who found himself trapped inside a broken pipe on a cold, wet night in Safford, Arizona. The kitten, just 10 weeks old was likely trying to find shelter for the night when he fell into the pipe, located in the backyard of an empty house.

Pipe, kitten named Echo

Images via FOX10/ Cheryl Christensen

The Kitten Was Stuck In The Pipe Five Feet Down

Fortunately for this poor scared baby, there are places like Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary of Arizona, The Safford Fire Department, and 3G Plumbing which heard the call to rescue this sweet baby.

Pipe where kitten was trapped

But the kitten’s rescue story began like this: Two college students could hear the kitten’s panicked meows echoing from the house where they lived around 8 a.m. Friday, September 10. The students had recently adopted a rescue cat of their own from Desert Cat Rescue, so they knew who to call to get help. 

And Cheryl Christensen, with the rescue, answered the call that afternoon. Christensen likes to describe herself as the sanctuary’s “chief litter box scooper,” but she’s actually the founder and director of Desert Cat Rescue. Like all truly dedicated cat lovers, she arrived on the scene immediately. 

Initially, everyone thought the kitten was stuck inside a wall.

“We all absolutely agreed there was a kitty in that wall,” Christensen told Daily Paws. “We just couldn’t locate it.”

So they called the Safford Fire Department for help. Firefighters arrived within 15 minutes, with some even bringing family members to help.

Rescuers pose with the kitten after a more than four-hour rescue.

Rescuers pose with the kitten after a more than four-hour rescue. Image via Gila Herald

But the team couldn’t figure out where the kitten had entered the wall. Quite obviously everyone would have to figure some way to locate the poor kitty. Now the team decided that perhaps the next step should be to climb on the roof. When they did that they could hear the tiny meows more clearly. It became obvious the cries were coming from ventilation pipes. The realization dawned that the vacant house next door had an open pipe in the backyard that was just about the right size for a small kitten to fall in.

Now It Was Time To Call A Plumber

At the suggestion of one of the Safford firefighters, John Archuleta, the team called in 3G Plumbing, where Archuleta’s son Chris works, The Gila Herald reports. The plumbers eased a camera down the pipe and located the kitten just five feet underground. This may not have sounded like a huge deal but it was actually quite worrisome. The frightened baby was only 15 feet from the city’s main sewer line. Every time someone flushed a toilet on that street the poor little creature would get soaked.

Archuleta notes the kitten had fallen into a clean-out pipe that wasn’t capped. These pipes are used by plumbers to gain easier access to septic tanks and sewer pipes in order to clear them of debris, Archuleta says.

Rescuers dig throughout the evening to reach the sewer pipe to rescue the kitten.

“Rescuers dig throughout the evening to reach the sewer pipe to rescue the kitten.” Gila Herald

Time To Dig In

Now residents, the firefighters, plumbers, and even more people started digging the area around the broken pipe. The hope was to cut the pipe and coax the scared, and probably exhausted kitten out. It was now the middle of the night and the tiny feline had been crying for hours. But as soon as everyone began digging, one of the plumbers looked into the camera and discovered the kitten was on the move. 

Everyone regrouped a little bit and decided to remove the toilet from the abandoned house, with the plumbers gently nudging the kitten forward with their camera. The effort, aided by the camera’s bright light and videos of a mama cat, took four hours but it paid off and the kitten was rescued.

“He was so exhausted,” Christensen says. “We had to go slow.”

It was now 11:12 p.m.

“These guys, they just kept going,” Christensen adds. “They did not give up on this little guy. It was just an unbelievable effort.”

Christopher Archuleta with 3G Plumbing holds a kitten he helped rescue out of a residential sewer pipe. Archuleta adopted the kitten and took him home.

Christopher Archuleta with holds a kitten he helped rescue via Facebook/Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary Arizona

One More Small Bump…And Then A Happy Ending For Little Gremlin

Desert Cat Rescue had arranged a foster home for the kitten, who turned out to be a little boy, but that fell through thanks to the late-night rescue. That’s when Chris Archuleta decided he needed a new friend and decided to take the kitten home. But not before his pint-sized costar went through two name changes: First, Echo, which fit, of course, because his little meows echoed through the pipes, but then Gremlin. Which also fits when you take a look at his adorable ears.

Gremlin, Echo, kitten stuck in pipe

A kitten Gremlin via Facebook

Archuleta with Gremlin

Christopher Archuleta with Gremlin via Facebook

Christensen provided Chris with food and supplies for Gremlin. The very next morning Chris took him to the emergency vet. Gremlin was given a round of antibiotics and was declared healthy. And as soon as Gremlin gets all the necessary shots and is neutered Chris plans to adopt him. 

Noting that we should always take action if we hear a little voice in trouble, Christensen reminds us:

“For anybody else out there that hears that little meow, don’t hesitate to reach out because there are caring people out there who will come and help.”

Because after all, isn’t that what friends are for?

Archuleta with Gremlin

Image via Gila Herald

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