Eight lives left

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Auburn cat starting to purrfect a normal life after a dramatic rescue.

AUBURN – After a really bad Monday – one that required a team of rescuers and the Jaws of Life – the future looks brighter for a black-and-white kitten.

The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society has received dozens of calls from people eager to adopt the cat, which was wedged for hours in a metal storm grate and found dangling by its neck while traffic whizzed by his head. Some of the calls have come from as far away as Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The animal shelter is taking applications from prospective owners. They expect to have a new home for him within a week.

Until then, staff members have dubbed the kitten “Stormy.”

“Storm drain. We thought Stormy was appropriate,” said Steve Dostie, the shelter’s executive director.

Rescuers believe the kitten found his way into Auburn’s underground storm drain system and tried to get out through the grate at Mt. Auburn Avenue and Turner Street. His head made it through a 3-inch slit, poking above the roadway, but the rest of his body got stuck. He likely hung there for hours, rescuers said, dangling by his neck while cars sped by inches from his head.

A pair of pedestrians found him and called for help. Police, firefighters and public works crews showed up.

Although rescuers pulled up the 150-pound grate, the cat remained stuck. When other attempts – including slathering dish soap around his head – failed to free him, they resorted to electric saws and the Jaws of Life. The hydraulic equipment pulled the metal apart, allowing the kitten to wiggle free.

At the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, workers fed and bathed him, cleaning away the storm grate rust that stained his fur.

“The white on his chest is actually white now,” Dostie said.

Shelter workers believe the cat is four or five months old. They’ve given him his kitten shots and tested him for feline leukemia and other diseases. He is scheduled to be neutered today.

News reports have made Stormy a minor celebrity. But so far, he seems to be oblivious to all the fuss.

He eats. He sleeps.

“He’s even starting to purr,” Dostie said.

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