How This Dream Team Saved a Tiny Kitten Who Was Trapped Underground and Almost Washed Away By Sewage

They nicknamed the kitten Echo, but his new parent has since renamed the little adventurer Gremlin.

It was dark, wet, and cold in the underground pipe where little Echo was stuck. The kitten was dangerously close to a sewage line and had no chance of escaping on his own. But an unlikely team helped bring the Arizona stray to safety and into a loving home.

Last Friday, Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary of Arizona, Safford Fire Department, and 3G Plumbing all joined forces to rescue 10-week-old Echo from an underground pipe in Safford, Ariz. But it wasn't an easy mission.

It all started when two college students heard a cat's meow echoing in their rental house around 8 a.m. that Friday. They had adopted a cat of their own from Desert Cat Rescue just a couple of months prior, so they figured the nonprofit might be able to help.

Cheryl Christensen received their call that afternoon and immediately arrived at the house. She describes herself as the sanctuary's "chief litter box scooper," but on paper she's the founder and director of Desert Cat Rescue.

"We all absolutely agreed there was a kitty in that wall," Christensen tells Daily Paws. "We just couldn't locate it."

That's when they called the Safford Fire Department for assistance. Firefighters arrived on the scene within 15 minutes. One even brought his family to help.

The team couldn't determine where the cat entered the walls, but while on the roof, team members could hear the kitty's cries coming from the ventilation pipes. They soon realized the vacant house next door had an open pipe in the backyard just the right size for a small kitty to fall in.

pipe where Arizona cat is rescued
Courtesy of Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary of Arizona

That's when they called 3G Plumbing. Its crew stuck a camera down the pipe and discovered the kitty located 5 feet underground and just 15 feet from the city's main sewage line. Christensen says that every time someone on that street flushed, the little kitten would become soaked.

"There were just so many obstacles and so much danger for the kitten," Christensen says. "There was literally no way for him to get out on his own."

When they had initially looked at the cat on camera, he was facing the road and the sewage line danger. But once they checked in again, the cat had turned and was moving back toward the house. The direction switch was a good sign, but it wasn't enough for the kitty to save himself. He still needed an extra push if he was going to make it out safely.

Arizona cat rescued from pipe
Courtesy of Desert Cat Rescue & Sanctuary of Arizona

Together, the makeshift team hatched a plan to bring the kitten to safety. 3G Plumbing used a motorized plumbing snake to block the exit to the dangerous sewage. Meanwhile, they used the camera snake to nudge the kitten back to the house, where the fire department had removed a toilet to make a safe exit point. They even played videos of a mama cat to try and coax him their way.

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

Then finally, after hours of troubleshooting, they retrieved the little kitten from the ground at 11:12 p.m.

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

Desert Cat Rescue had a foster home lined up for the kitten, but that fell through because they recovered him so late at night. That's when Chris with 3G Plumbing volunteered to take him home.

Christensen gave Chris supplies and food for the kitten, whom Chris would take to the emergency veterinarian the next morning. There, the kitty received antibiotics but was otherwise declared healthy.

Chris has since named the kitten Gremlin (with those ears, the name is a natural fit!) and plans to adopt him once he's cleared with his shots and neutered by Desert Cat Rescue.

Christensen encouraged people to keep their eyes open and take action: "For anybody else out there who hears that little meow, don't hesitate to reach out because there are caring people out there who will come and help."

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