Delicate operation to retrieve cat trapped inside commercial tank

It was a call from a worried neighbour of a northern suburbs commercial premises that raised concerns for the safety of a young cat, after desperate cries were heard from an industrial-size water tank situated on the property.

The caller told RSPCA Rescue Officer Soraya that this wasn’t the first time a cat had been trapped in one of the property’s tanks, and that she believed the cat must have fallen through a small opening on the tank roof.

Upon arriving to the scene shortly after the incident was reported, Soraya discovered that the cat had indeed fallen inside the tank, which was constructed with thick concrete walls and a solid metal roof.

A rescue operation was launched from above

Soraya is no stranger to rescuing cats from hard-to-reach places, but the sheer size of the rainwater tank meant this rescue operation was not going to be an easy one. Upon assessing the small opening of the tank, Soraya was unable to tell if the tank contained any water, which significantly raised concerns around the wellbeing of the trapped cat.

“We weren’t sure if the tank was filled with water or fumes, therefore jumping straight in was not an option,” Soraya explained.

“We needed a plan to get into that tank as quickly as possible, without putting ourselves at risk of danger or injury.”

It quickly became clear that the only way of rescuing the cat would be from above, which in itself brought further challenges. After Soraya deemed it too unsafe to rescue the cat with a ladder, it was decided that a cherry picker would need to be brought in for the security of all parties.

With one hand on the cherry picker’s safety rail and the other firmly gripped onto an extended net, Soraya was gently lowered over the top of the tank. A section of the tank’s roof was able to be pried open, and Soraya was relieved to see that the tank was in fact, empty.

“We were so thankful that the tank didn’t contain any water,” she said.

“I could see the desperation in the cat’s eyes when she looked up at me as I entered the tank,”

“She knew we were there to help and she was cooperative from the get-go. You don’t always get that with animals, I think she knew that she had exhausted her options and we were her only hope,” Soraya said.

Rescued in one fell swoop

Soraya was unable to tell if the cat was injured from the fall, and knew she needed to retrieve her as calmly as possible. Tightening her grip on the handle, Soraya gently lowered the net towards the cat, who stayed perfectly still throughout the ordeal.

In one fell swoop, Soraya dropped the net over the cat and hoisted her up to safety, where she was promptly placed into a cage.

“I was so relieved I was able to catch her on the first attempt,” said Soraya.

“We didn’t want her to get spooked from my efforts as she could have easily fallen into a drainage hole at the very bottom of the tank,”

“The cat was definitely shaken up from the whole ordeal, but you could tell that she was grateful to be saved.”

Soon after she was secured, the cat was taken to our Lonsdale Shelter, where she received a complete check-up by our specialised vet team.

The cat, now named Milkshake, was cleared of any injuries and made available for adoption shortly after – less than two weeks later and Milkshake had found her forever home.

To prevent similar incidents like this from occurring at your home, we highly recommend that you cover any openings on rainwater tanks and similar structures.

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