Pilchards fail, firemen win in battle for Ziggie

SAFE AND SOUND: Sharon Brown with her cat Ziggie Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
SAFE AND SOUND: Sharon Brown with her cat Ziggie

Intensive rescue efforts to save black cat stuck in a pipe

Three burly firemen armed with chisels and flanked by a fire truck frantically chipped away at a drainage pipe in an effort to rescue seven year-old cat Ziggie. The urgent rescue operation was put into play in Central yesterday morning when it was discovered that the pitch-black cat had burrowed into the pipe and not even pilchards could coax her out.

The firemen, who did not want to identify themselves, worked tirelessly outside owner Sharon Brown’s Clyde Street flat, taking turns at breaking the standardsized drainage pipe in an attempt to free the frightened feline.

In addition to breaking the pipe, the firemen sprayed water into it to scare Ziggie out through an opening that led into a neighbouring block of flats.

After about 45 minutes of work Ziggie sprang out of the pipe, making a mad dash for freedom.

Brown said the ordeal, which started when she first noticed Ziggie was missing at 3am, had been stressful.

“I noticed last night that she had not come home. At 3am I went looking for her. That is when I heard her meowing from the pipe,” she said.

“I put my hand in the cavity and could feel her head, but she couldn’t get through.

“I don’t know if it’s legal to have their [the neighbouring flats] drainage coming onto our property.”

Brown used pilchards and milk in an attempt to lure Ziggie out, but the cat remained stuck until the South End fire department arrived at about 11am.

Several pipes from the building next door are open towards the block of flats where Brown lives.

Brown, who is also caretaker of the property, said Ziggie would not immediately come out as “cats are afraid of noises”. “I am very upset. Ziggie is a rescue cat I picked up seven years ago when a building in Parliament Street burnt down,” she said.

“She is very homebound, she hardly ever goes off.

“She stays with me when I’m gardening, she talks to me.

“I was very worried because it was dark and she is a black cat.

“I thank God for these men. Neighbours had tried to intervene before one of them called the fire brigade.”

The firemen used their smartphones to take pictures and assess where Ziggie had moved to in the pipe.

When it became clear that the cat was no longer close to the opening where she had entered, they had no choice but to use water to force her out.

Their hard work finally paid off when the visibly scared cat ran off before finally returning home at about 3pm.

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