On a recent rainy night in Anchorage, firefighters helped fish a cat that had been missing for more than 10 days out of an underground pipe on the Anchorage Hillside.
According to owner Helen Mikes, her 9-year-old Norwegian forest cat name Cica (that's Hungarian for "cat") went missing on Aug. 29 when she didn't return from her usual foray into brush surrounding Mikes' home off Upper O'Malley Road.
Mikes and her husband, Barna, looked for the cat for days.
"I practically gave up on her and thought she was a goner," Mikes said.
They finally spoke with a neighbor who said he had heard cat sounds coming from a nearby property.
On Sept. 9, Mikes found Cica (pronounced "ts-eets-uh") at the bottom of a pipe 10 feet long and about a foot in diameter, buried under the ground behind a garage.
After several unsuccessful attempts to lasso the cat with a small dog harness, the Mikes got help from a nearby fire station. Mikes said O'Malley Road fire station Captain Nate Paulson, along with firefighters Nick Davis, Clay Lex and Donald Maesner, jumped into a truck and headed toward the garage to help.
Using a pike pole -- a long-handled pole used by firefighters to knock down or support building walls and ceilings -- and a rope noose, the rescuers were eventually able to fish the cat out of the pipe.
Mikes said the wet, skinny and hungry Cica was less than grateful after being pulled up.
"She came out ready to fight," Mikes said.
After getting Cica wrapped up in a blanket, Mikes and her husband took the cat home to warm it up and feed it. Mikes said she doesn't know how long Cica was stuck at the bottom of the pipe, but suspects it was at least several days. Mikes said Cica had lost several pounds and was "skin and bones."
"She was down there for at least a few days," Mikes said. "The smell alone told you that."
Mikes said that Cica is no worse for the wear after the ordeal. She is slowly putting back on the weight she lost, and is less adventurous than she was before she went missing.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing