RICHMOND — Candy may have used up one of her nine lives, but the black cat is getting a second chance after alert reactions from local residents and Animal Control Officer Ann Fisher helped rescue the feline when it became stuck in a block of ice Monday.
The cat, a full grown adult female, has since been reunited with its owner and somehow survived the ordeal with no serious injuries or frostbite. It was in the early stages of hypothermia when first discovered, according to Fisher, but somehow avoided serious injury despite the extreme cold overnight from Sunday to Monday.
“It’s a happy ending to a very traumatic situation,” Fisher said Tuesday. “In my 25 years of experience as an animal control officer, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
According to Fisher, the owners of a home off Fox Ridge Drive contacted police just before 8:30 a.m. after finding the cat stuck to the couple’s driveway. When Fisher first arrived, the cat was frozen within a small block of ice that had entrapped its two hind legs and tail. The cat was also unresponsive and showed signs of exhaustion.
But Fisher said some creative early intervention by the homeowner — he had used a box to cover the cat, reducing wind exposure and brought a space heater on an extension cord to provide some initial warmth — paired with the rescue response helped prevent the serious situation from turning deadly.
Fisher said that, assisted by Capt. John Dimon and Assistant Chief Dave Richardson of the Richmond-Carolina Fire Department, she and the homeowner were able to then begin thawing out the cat using a combination of blankets and numerous air activated hand warmers.
“It took about 40 minutes, but the cat was freed in a humane way and we then immediately rushed it to the Richmond Veterinary Clinic,” Fisher said. “I was shocked when Dr. Amanda Bubank called us later to report there was no frostbite and the cat would make a full recovery.”
Upon investigation, it was determined that the cat had gone to a nearby pond that had not fully frozen over and appeared to fall in. Based on tracks and other evidence, police reports indicate that the cat struggled to get out of the pond and proceeded up a snowbank, struggling to make progress as it climbed over the top of the snowbank.
Likely exhausted from the initial escape, which would have occurred between midnight and 8 a.m. when the highest recorded temperature was just 10 degrees, Fisher said she believes the cat was attempting to rest, leading the hind legs and tail to freeze.
Complicating the response, the cat had no tags and officials had no way of notifying the owner, who was not identified. Police located the owner later in the day when Fisher returned to the neighborhood to report the missing cat. She said one of the neighbors responded quickly and took possession of the animal, bringing it home from the veterinary clinic on Monday evening.
Police issued a warning to the owner for failure to provide proper identification, a requirement for all pets under Rhode Island general statutes, but Fisher said she could not have scripted a happier ending overall.
“You could say, based on the first escape and then being frozen, that Candy used up two of her nine lives,” Fisher said. “But she was healthy, alive and able to make a full recovery. That’s all we could have hoped for.”