Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Cat-a-Pillar Conundrum

For the past few months, my family and I have been hearing kittens mewling from somewhere in the house, but we could never pinpoint its source. All we knew was, it was in the ceiling area next to the front door, but we couldn't figure it out. We eventually forgot about it (and we figured the kittens had grown and moved on).

But something happened a couple of days ago – we heard the meowing, loud and urgent, and it wasn't just coming from a phantom source: it was coming from inside a corner pillar by the front door! The rest of this story I'm going to cut and paste from my post(s) on Facebook:

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There are kittens inside a wall in my house.

I'm not sure if they're trapped inside this pillar (which is wooden and hollow for some reason), but they SOUND like they are, and I hear scratching and meowing from within it.

Also, we often hear an adult cat on the roof of the house, which leads me to the conclusion that mummy cat found a hole in the roof that leads into the hollow pillar, and then brought her kittens to, or GAVE BIRTH IN, said pillar.
A dismayed mummy cat on the roof. The hole leading
into the pillar is close to that part of the house. 
(The mewling has definitely matured; we've been hearing these phantom mewls on and off for WEEKS, initially very high-pitched and newborn-esque; now less high-pitched but very much still kitten-esque. It's only more recently that we've been able to pinpoint the source of the meows (i.e. inside the wall); previously the mewls would kinda just float in mid-air, like, somewhere in the ceiling, so we weren't as worried then as we thought the cats were on the move.)

My concern now is that the kittens are stuck. Maybe now that they're bigger, mummy cat isn't able to climb up the wall and back out – not while holding a baby cat in her teeth, at least.


SO: first thing I want to do is for someone to get on the roof to verify that there's a way into this mystery pillar, but I think it should be someone lighter than I am.

SECONDLY: if the kittens ARE indeed trapped, how do we get them out? One way, I suppose, is to make a hole in the wall and get them out from the bottom. There's no way we can just LEAVE them there!!

Does anyone here have any thoughts? Any handy but careful, compassionate people who think they might be able to help get them out, hole-in-the-wall style?

Worst-case scenario, we'll have to call the fire brigade, but maybe it can be resolved less messily (and with less stress to the kittens) by having a handy carpenter-like person do the job in such a way that the hole in the wall can be resealed, a la a trapdoor. Any suggestions, ideas? Please do help. And check out the pics and vid for further understanding of this strange conundrum. Thanks, all.

A curious Ashley checking out the pillar.
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As you can see, the video got quite a few views (288 as of time of writing this), and a few friends tried to offer advice:



(Incidentally, I'd LOVE to own a stud finder...) :|
But as of Friday morning, we were nowhere closer to a solution, and the kittens were still crying frantically in there. And quite honestly, I was getting kinda stressed, especially with Mama Cat still out there! Luckily, one of Hilda's friends, Kok Fei, is an experienced cat rescuer and he also owned power tools. So it was Kok Fei to the rescue, and on Friday morning, after a whole night of hearing kitties scratch and mewl desperately inside the pillar, he came over with an arsenal of tools, including a diamond saw, and (much to our apprehension) slowly and carefully cut his way into the wall:


Quoth I on Facebook:

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Okay. So the good news is, the kittens have been rescued from inside the hollow pillar! Many thanks to Kok Fei for coming to the rescue with his diamond saw to zzzzzzzing a little hole in the wall and fish out two little cuties; and to Nicole for coming by to help seal up the little hole where they entered the space. They seem scruffy and shaken (understandably) but none the worse for wear, all things considered. They were active and alert but also possibly at the age where they still needed their mama, so we put them in a little crate and left them in a safe place so that mummy cat can come find them.

OMG!! The cuteness!!
Welcome to the hole-in-the-wall gang!
LATEST UPDATE (as of Friday afternoon): One kitten has disappeared. Adult cat food has been partially consumed, leaving us to conclude that mummy cat came and took one baby away. (Regrettably, we hadn't seen it happen... we figured that, by leaving them alone, it would have made mummy cat more confident in approaching.) This leaves us both glad and sad: did we make the right choice allowing mummy cat to come back for her kits? What if we rescued them from the wall only for them to end up in a more dangerous situation? Sigh.

Anyway, one sole kitty remains, but mummy cat isn't in sight. So... I guess it's a waiting game now. Kitty is bright-eyed and active, plus she had a few drops of kitty milk that we left out for her, so I think she'll be fine. The question is whether she stays or leaves for her exciting life as a stray cat. Only time will tell... :/

The kitty being an acrocat.
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By Friday night, my nerves were kinda frayed because the mummy cat was nowhere to be seen, and a part of me had begun to worry that she had forgotten she had two kitties, not just the one! And to make it even more difficult, apparently kittens of a certain age can't pee and poo by themselves! Argh!!! This was out of my experience; if anything this whole thing proved that, while I love animals and always will care about their welfare, I'm definitely a dog person!!!


The saga finally reached its conclusion when I awoke this morning (Saturday) to loud mewlings from the balcony, where I had placed little solo kitten (who I'd named Tabby; big mistake! Never give 'em names, or you'll get attached!)... I looked out the bedroom window just in time to see mummy cat leap from the floor onto the balcony wall, little Tabby in her teeth hanging by her scruff. And, as I breathed a sigh of relief, mummy cat bounded off into the night and has thus far not been seen again, even though I'm leaving water and food out on the balcony in the event that she'd like to return. Whew!

So that's the story of what I've coined the "Cat-a-Pillar" incident (cat-a-pillar.... caterpillar, get it?! Bwahahahaha!) It was a strange event, all right, but I'm glad we managed to play our all-important part in rescuing the kittens and allowing them to reunite with their mother. What happens to them now is up to nature and circumstance, but here's hoping they grow up big and strong and, ultimately, adopted.

Thanks for sharing this, Papps! Facepalm.

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