Ketchikan Humane Society volunteers spent hours out in the cold and rain in an attempt to save several kittens abandoned near a local trail. The dramatic July 6 rescue saved seven young felines.
It was a dull, grey afternoon when a woman called the Ketchikan Humane Society, concerned about kittens coming in and out of a culvert. When volunteers arrived around 4:30 p.m., they found what seemed to be five kittens in the pipe, with a cup of soup nearby.
Humane Society Secretary Treasurer and volunteer Cindy Hoggard was on the scene.
“Out popped another black kitten,” she said. “Threw that one in my shirt, and it settled right in and went sound asleep. And then about 15 minutes later another black kitten showed up.”
Throughout the afternoon, four black kittens left the culvert for the safety of the volunteers. But the remaining white kitten refused to budge.
“They were, they were nesting about 25 feet down the pipe, and the pipe goes across the highway,” Hoggard said. “And it is open at the other end. So, you know, we were concerned if they could get that far, but it went up vertically. So we didn’t think they could climb up that far, but certainly something could climb in the other end and come in and eat them overnight.
So she called two more volunteers to come help.
The relief team showed up as a volunteer took the four kittens to a foster home. The new volunteers downloaded cat sounds on their phones. In the trees between the road and the highway, they played the sounds past midnight to try and lure her out.
“And they’re waiting for the white kitty to come and out pops the black kitten,” she said. “We’re like what? We had no idea there was another black kitten in there and they waited and waited and about an hour later another black kitten pops out. We’re like what?”
From the darkness of the pipe, Hoggard said they could only see the white kitten and hear mewing. They ultimately rescued seven kittens in all. Hoggard said if the white kitten had emerged earlier, they might not have the last two.
“So those the two ladies are out in the middle of the night,” she said. “It’s passing midnight, and they’re like we just, we’re cold. They were shivering. And then they heard her, they heard her moving in the culvert. And sure enough, she popped out just enough, they grabbed her, 12:30 a.m.”
The whole thing took eight hours. Much of that on a cold, dark night.
“There was a streetlamp on the highway that kind of lit the woods up a little but there sure are a lot of things that crawl around in the night that they were getting the heebie jeebies quite a bit,” Hoggard said.
While they’re not sure, Hoggard thinks someone left the kittens by the culvert because the kittens were used to people. She said calls about found kittens aren’t rare, and that the Humane Society has already received lots of applications for adoption. They’ve named the black kittens “Bjorn,” “Dov,” “Orso,” “Cubby,” “Puma” and “Bera.”
A volunteer took the white kitten home and named her Piper-cub.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated where the kittens were taken after the rescue. The volunteers took them to a foster home, not a shelter.