A Fort Saskatchewan woman is thanking the crew of local firefighters who came to the rescue of a stranded kitten over the weekend.
Adrianne Kirtz was taking care of her daughter’s boyfriend’s cat for a few days while the couple was away on a camping trip. Ten-month-old Anastasia is an indoor cat with a habit of hiding out in laundry baskets and other snug places.
Sunday morning Kirtz woke up to find the kitten missing. A search of the house turned up no trace of the young feline.
“We looked high and low, and I'm like, 'oh no, she must have gotten out,'” Kirtz said. The mother of five wondered if Anastasia had slipped through the door during one of her children’s many comings and goings. Kirtz and her kids took their search outside, spending the afternoon walking through the treed streets of their Fort High area neighbourhood.
The fruitless hunt continued into the dark.
Meanwhile, about 10 houses down from Kirtz’s place, Marilyn Robinson was enjoying a Sunday evening bath when she heard an unusual noise. Robinson threw on a bathrobe and headed outside, using her phone flashlight to find her way on the dim, rainy night.
Robinson soon found the source of the strange sound—a distressed, meowing Anastasia clinging to a small branch at the top of a neighbour’s front-yard tree.
“And then these people came,” she said. “I guess they had heard the noise as well. And it happened to be the owner.”
Kirtz was on the opposite side of the street from Robinson’s house when she finally came across the missing kitten.
"All of a sudden out of the blue we just start hearing this 'meow.’ And I'm going, 'what are the chances?'"
Kirtz went home to grab a ladder, finding when she returned that it was far too short to reach the frightened, rain-soaked cat. Kirtz was a bit dubious at first when Robinson suggested a call to the fire department.
“And I was kind of like, does that actually happen?” Kirtz remembered thinking. "Can you actually call them?"
Kirtz felt a bit silly making the call but was reassured when the Fort Saskatchewan Fire Department arrived on the scene happy to help out. Her eight-year-old son was particularly impressed.
"He was so excited. It was actually really nice for them to see that they do come out and how friendly they were."
About nine crew members took part in the hour-long rescue operation, with two firefighters using a ladder truck to reach the lost kitten and others standing by with a tarp ready to catch Anastasia if something went wrong.
Robinson found herself nearly in tears when the firefighters brought the kitten down.
"It was unreal. I couldn't believe that that actually happened, that she was saved."
Anastasia was wet, cold and hungry when she returned to Kirtz’s arms, but a visit to the vet turned up nothing seriously wrong with the kitten.
"I don't think she'll be going outside again," Kirtz said.
According to fire chief Shawn McKerry, cat rescues are not typically a priority for the department.
"In the realm of the stuff that we end up going to, a cat in a tree is not a real true emergency,” he said. “But fortunately in this case we did have some people available to help out and take our ladder truck and one of our fire engines over to help this cat down."
When it comes to cats stuck in trees, McKerry encourages people leave the animals alone in the hopes that they will come down on their own. In Anastasia’s case, that likely wasn’t going to happen. It’s not entirely clear how long the kitten spent in the tree, but Kirtz estimates her stay lasted at least 24 hours and possibly longer.
Kirtz is grateful for the fire department’s help.
"They did an awesome job. They were just so great," she said.
Kirtz still had another potentially awkward phone call to make once Anastasia was safe, this one to her daughter’s boyfriend to share the news of the weekend’s activities.
"I am the worst cat sitter ever," Kirtz said with a laugh.