Rescuers save kitten trapped on bridge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

VIDALIA — A freefall from the Mississippi River bridge could have ended badly for a Vidalia resident, but luckily a police officer was there to catch him.

But then, it’s not too hard to catch something that only weighs a couple of pounds and is covered in fur.

The story began Tuesday night when two walkers on the riverfront heard the sound of mewing, and soon discovered a small, black kitten trapped in the right south side of the eastbound bridge structure over the riverfront.

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“On our way down, I had heard a sound like a loud cat cry, but I didn’t pay much attention to it because there were some cars in that area, and I thought maybe a child had a cat in one of them,” said Pascha Brown, one of the walkers.

“I guess he fell through the drain on the bridge to a beam, which saved him, but he was trapped.”

Vidalia Street Supervisor Lee Staggs said that it is not uncommon for feral cats to live in the bridge structure and eat the pigeons that roost there, but the kitten was on a 14-inch beam that the bridge cats don’t go to.

“He was a little thing — I don’t believe he had ever gotten out on his own,” Staggs said. “He was stuck in a beam where they have put the new lights in. He could walk around, but he couldn’t get out to get anything to eat or drink. It would have only been a matter of time before he expired.”

Vidalia Animal Control Officer Toxie Burnette and Staggs made their way to where the kitten was on the bridge in an attempt to catch it.

“We tried to get him with the catch pole, but the pole was too short,” Burnette said. “Lee Staggs and I went up on the bridge, and Lee pulled the cable out as far as he could to extend the pole a little longer, and he was trying to get the cat to grab at it so he could pull (the cable) and catch it.”

After several attempts at hooking the kitten, Staggs yelled down to the people below to get ready to catch it and bumped the kitten with the pole, knocking it off the beam, Burnette said.

“He was tumbling in the air like he was trying to find his feet — he was just rolling,” Brown said.

The kitten plunged into the outstretched jacket of Vidalia police officer Frank Duson, who was standing under the bridge.

“Where he was, the bridge is pretty high,” Burnette said. “If that cat had fallen, it would have hurt him.”

After the fall, the kitten ran away from the people on the riverfront once it was removed from the coat, but it was later found and has since been adopted, Burnette said.

“It is gentle as can be after it calmed down a little bit,” he said.

How the kitten got to where it was is a mystery, but Burnette said it is not uncommon for cats to crawl under vehicle motors.

“There is a good chance he got under the chassis on a truck and then fell off when they were crossing over the bridge,” he said.