The Kaitaia Fire Brigade's Feline Rescue Unit was in action on Friday, after a cat with a cardboard yoghurt carton jammed over its head got stuck in a culvert on the intersection of SH1 and Unahi Rd.
The toughest part of the job was lifting a nearby manhole cover, that might well not have been prised loose since the Boer War. That (finally) done, a hose was poked into the culvert pipe and turned on, gently. Colin Kitchen assured his crew that that would do the trick, and it did.
The cat shot out of the pipe like a rocket, into the arms of firefighter Aaron Hartnell, who has taken up his station there with some reluctance. He was heard at one point mumbling something about compensation in the event of getting scratched, although he was wearing enough protective gear to grab a sabre tooth tiger let alone a common or garden moggie.
So, water on, cat ejects from pipe, FF Hartnell catches it, rips off the yoghurt carton and the cat scarpers under a nearby fence, only to be chased around the corner and out of sight by a couple of rottweilers.
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Unfortunately the magic moment wasn't captured for posterity. Just at the precise moment that the puss appeared out of the pipe Colin Kitchen contrived to get himself between cat and camera.
FF Hartnell, who survived without visible injury or blood loss, no doubt returned to the station fully aware of the privileges of rank, or lack of, if he had not already discovered that some jobs are tailor-made for a crew's junior member. He might have been grateful for the fact that the cat chose a culvert rather than a Norfolk pine. If it had, its slightly reluctant rescuer would have been given a ladder.