Midnight rescue operation saves cat

Mumbai's fire brigade and neighbourhood residents rescue a stranded cat in the middle of the night, displaying an eagerness to care for animals in the city.

On the eve of 7th September, 11:00 pm, Aarti Aggarwal Gupta was alerted about a cat stranded on the parapet of the 4th floor of her building. For the next 3 hours, efforts to rescue the animal were in full swing.

Shukri – the cat – had slipped into an open house and on being shooed, jumped out of the window. She landed on the ledge directly below. At first, Aarti, her husband and a watchman attempted to call the cat to safety. After several unsuccessful attempts, they decided to contact the BMC disaster management helpline, 1916.

A fire brigade team, led by Officer Sonawane, was quick to arrive. They hoisted an extendable ladder to the floor the cat was perched on, securing it with steel poles and a rope. By this time, despite the hour of the night and constant rain, several of the neighbourhood’s residents had gathered to help. An officer ascended to the fearful cat and lured it into a basket with food, while those below held a blanket, in case she fell. At 2:30, Shukri was free.

A reliable recourse for rescuing animals

Aarti recounted the incident on Facebook the next morning, expressing her gratitude to the fire brigade team and all those involved. Her objective for sharing the story, she wrote, was “to enable animal lovers to know the procedure to be followed while rescuing these stranded innocent community animals.”

Aarti is known for being a staunch defender of nature among the residents in her building in Andheri West – a rarity in her area. She ensures the cluster of cats in her building are vaccinated, neutered and healthy, entirely of her volition. Despite the routine opposition she faces, she intends to continue her efforts to protect them.

Read more: Tale of a backyard bird-rescue

Mumbai’s fire brigade has a reputation of being eager to come to the rescue of animals. A few months earlier, residents in Borivali noticed a baby heron hanging upside down from a tree branch, its legs caught in kite string. On calling 1916, they were reverted to the nearby Kandarpada Fire Station. The firemen arrived within ten minutes and snipped the bird free. An NGO then took the injured bird to a hospital to recover.

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