The tiny black cat, nicknamed "Hydrant" by shelter staff, may have been stuck in the pipe on Wilkinson Drive for 4-5 days.
"The kitten was lethargic and not very responsive so we stimulated him, dried him off and gave him oxygen," said Lt. Mark Ricci of Station 112. "We have animal masks on the trucks, three different sizes, so we selected the smallest size and administered the flow of oxygen. The cat was 100 percent when we left."
Lake County Animal Control Officers Sharon Beardley and Gerry Hodge transported the kitten directly to the shelter for treatment. Hydrant is too young for adoption so a foster family is being sought for his care until he is old enough to be adopted through Lake County Animal Services. To sign up as a volunteer animal foster, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/volunteer.
Lt. Ricci said firefighters are well prepared for animal rescues, though they do not happen often, and generally the cats are stuck up in a tree rather than down in a drain.
"We were assuming it was in a tree and we were immediately pointed to look at the ground," Ricci said, who was joined by firefighters Daniel Wallace, Jeffrey Shrock and Albert Howard. "It was a tough one."
Brian Sheahan, Lake County's director of Community Safety & Compliance, commended the staff on scene for their dedication and teamwork in saving the kitten.
"Our Animal Control Officers and firefighters both have difficult jobs to do on a daily basis," Sheahan said. "I am proud that we can take time to work together to help protect even our smallest creatures."
To find out more about Lake County Animal Services, or to make a donation to the shelter, log on to www.lakecountyfl.gov/adopt, visit the shelter at 28123 County Road 561, Tavares, or call 352-343-9688.