or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › This really happened
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

This really happened

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
This is long but worth reading. Poor kitty and owners of kitty, but has a good ending.

Catch of the Day Lands Cat in Garbage Disposal
By Patti Schroeder
March 14, 2002

This is the story of the night my ten-year-old cat, Rudy, got his head
stuck in the garbage disposal. I knew at the time that the experience
would be funny if the cat survived, so let me tell you right up front
that he's fine.

Getting him out wasn't easy, though, and the process included numerous
home remedies, a plumber, two cops, an emergency overnight veterinary
clinic, a case of mistaken identity, five hours of panic, and fifteen
minutes of fame.

First, some background. My husband, Rich, and I had just returned from
a five-day spring-break vacation in the Cayman Islands, where I had been
sick as a dog the whole time, trying to convince myself that if I had
to feel lousy, it was better to do it in paradise.

We had arrived home at 9 p.m., a day and a half later than we had
planned because of airline problems. I still had illness-related
vertigo, and because of the flight delays, had not been able to prepare
the class I was supposed to teach at 8:40 the next morning. I sat down
at my desk to think about William Carlos Williams, and around ten
o'clock I heard Rich hollering something undecipherable from the

As I raced out to see what was wrong, I saw Rich frantically rooting
around under the kitchen sink and Rudy, or rather, Rudy's headless
body. He was scrambling around in the sink, his claws clicking in panic on
the metal. Rich had just ground up the skin of some smoked salmon in the
garbage disposal, and when he left the room, Rudy (whom we always did
call a pinhead) had gone in after it.

It is very disturbing to see the headless body of your cat in the sink.
This is an animal that I have slept with nightly for ten years, who
burrows under the covers and purrs against my side, and who
looked like a desperate, fur-covered turkey carcass, set to defrost in the
sink while it's still alive and kicking.

It was also disturbing to see Rich, Mr. Calm-in-an-Emergency, at his wits
end, trying to soothe Rudy, trying to undo the garbage disposal, failing at both, and basically freakingout. Adding to the chaos was Rudy's twin brother Lowell,
also upset, racing around in circles, jumping onto the kitchen counter and alternately licking Rudy's butt for comfort and biting it out of fear. Clearly, I had to do something.

First we tried to ease Rudy out of the disposal by lubricating his head
and neck. We tried Johnson's baby shampoo (kept on hand for my nieces'
visits) and butter-flavored Crisco: both failed, and a now-greasy Rudy
kept struggling.

Rich then decided to take apart the garbage disposal, which was a good
idea, but he couldn't do it. Turns out, the thing is constructed like a
metal onion: you peel off one layer and another one appears, with
Rudy's head still buried deep inside, stuck in a hard plastic collar. My job
during this process was to sit on the kitchen counter petting Rudy,
trying to calm him, with the room spinning (vertigo), Lowell howling
(he's part Siamese), and Rich clattering around with tools.

When all our efforts failed, we sought professional help. I called our
regular plumber, who actually called me back quickly, even at 11
o'clock at night (thanks, Dave). He talked Rich through further layers of
disposal dismantling, but still we couldn't reach Rudy. I called the
1-800 number for Insinkerator (no response), a pest removal service
that advertises 24-hour service (no response), an all-night emergency
veterinary clinic (who had no experience in this matter, and so, no
advice), and finally, in desperation, 911. I could see that Rudy's
normally pink paw pads were turning blue. The fire department, I
figured, gets cats out of trees; maybe they could get one out of a
garbage disposal.

The dispatcher had other ideas and offered to send over two policemen.
This suggestion gave me pause. I'm from the sixties, and even if I am
currently a fine upstanding citizen, I had never considered calling the
cops and asking them to come to my house, on purpose. I resisted the
suggestion, but the dispatcher was adamant: "They'll help you out," he

The cops arrived close to midnight and turned out to be quite nice.
More importantly, they were also able to think rationally, which we were
not. They were, of course, quite astonished by the situation: "I've never
seen anything like this," Officer Mike kept saying. (The unusual
circumstances helped us get quickly on a first-name basis with our
cops.) Officer Tom expressed immediate sympathy for our plight. "I have
had cats all my life, "he said, comfortingly. Also he had an idea.
Evidently we needed a certain tool, a tiny, circular rotating saw that
could cut through the heavy plastic flange encircling Rudy's neck
without hurting Rudy, and Officer Tom happened to own one. "I live just
five minutes from here," he said; "I'll go get it."

He soon returned, and the three of them, Rich and the two policemen got
under the sink together to cut through the garbage disposal. I sat on
the counter, holding Rudy and trying not to succumb to the surreal-ness
of the scene, with the weird middle-of-the-night lighting, the rooms
occasional spinning, Lowell's spooky sound effects, an apparently
headless cat in my sink and six disembodied legs poking out from under
it. One good thing came of this: the guys did manage to get the bottom
off the disposal, so we could now see Rudy's face and knew he could
breathe. But they couldn't cut the flange without risking the cat.

Stumped, Officer Tom had another idea. "You know," he said, "I think
the reason we can't get him out is the angle of his head and body. If we
could just get the sink out and lay it on its side, I'll bet we could
slip him out." That sounded like a good idea at this point, ANYTHING
would have sounded like a good idea and as it turned out, Officer Mike
runs a plumbing business on weekends; he knew how to take out the sink!

Again they went to work, the three pairs of legs sticking out from
under the sink surrounded by an ever-increasing pile of tools and sink parts.
They cut the electrical supply, capped off the plumbing lines,
unfastened the metal clamps, unscrewed all the pipes, and about an hour
later, voila! The sink was lifted gently out of the countertop, with
one guy holding the garbage disposal (which contained Rudy's head) up close
to the sink (which contained Rudy's body). We laid the sink on its
side, but even at this more favorable removal angle, Rudy stayed stuck.

Officer Tom's radio beeped, calling him away on some kind of real
police business. As he was leaving, though, he had another good idea: "You
know," he said, "I don't think we can get him out while he's struggling
so much. We need to get the cat sedated. If he were limp, we could
slide him out." And off he went, regretfully, a cat lover still worried about

The remaining three of us decided that getting Rudy sedated was a good
idea, but Rich and I were new to the area. We knew that the overnight
emergency veterinary clinic was only a few minutes away, but we didn't
know exactly how to get there. "I know where it is!" declared Officer

"Follow me!" So Mike got into his patrol car, Rich got into the drivers
seat of our car, and I got into the back, carrying the kitchen sink,
what was left of the garbage disposal, and Rudy.

It was now about 2:00 a.m. We followed Officer Mike for a few blocks
when I decided to put my hand into the garbage disposal to pet Rudy's
face, hoping I could comfort him. Instead, my sweet, gentle bed fellow
chomped down on my finger, hard, really hard and wouldn't let go. My
scream reflex kicked into gear, and I couldn't stop the noise. Rich
slammed on the breaks, hollering "What? What happened? Should I stop?"
checking us out in the rear view mirror. "No," I managed to get out
between screams, "just keep driving. Rudy's biting me, but we've got to
get to the vet. Just go!"

Rich turned his attention back to the road, where Officer Mike took a
turn we hadn't expected, and we followed. After a few minutes Rudy let
go, and as I stopped screaming, I looked up to discover that we were
wandering aimlessly through an industrial park, in and out of empty
parking lots, past little streets that didn't look at all familiar.
"Where's he taking us?" I asked. "We should have been there ten minutes
ago!" Rich was as mystified as I was, but all we knew to do was follow
the police car until, finally, he pulled into a church parking lot and
we pulled up next to him. As ! Rich rolled down the window to ask,
Mike, "where are we going?" The cop, who was not Mike, rolled down his window
and asked, "Why are you following me?" Once Rich and I recovered from
our shock at having tailed the wrong cop car and the policeman from his
pique at being stalked, led us quickly to the emergency vet, where Mike
greeted us by holding open the door exclaiming, " Where were you

It was lucky that Mike got to the vets ahead of us, because we hadn't
thought to call and warn them about what was coming. (Clearly, by this
time we weren't really thinking at all.) We brought in the kitchen sinkcontaining
Rudy and the garbage disposal containing his head, and the
clinic staff was ready. They took his temperature (which was down 10
degrees) and his oxygen level (which was half of normal), and the vet
declared: "This cat is in serious shock. We've got to sedate him and
get him out of there immediately."

When I asked if it was OK to sedate a cat in shock, the vet said
grimly, "We don't have a choice." With that, he injected the cat; Rudy went
limp; and the vet squeezed about half a tube of K-Y jelly onto the
cat's neck and pulled him free. Then the whole team jumped into code blue
mode. (I know this from watching a lot of ER)

They laid Rudy on a cart, where one person hooked up IV fluids, another
put little socks on his paws ("You'd be amazed how much heat they lose
through their pads," she said), one covered him with hot water bottles
and a blanket, and another took a blow-dryer to warm up Rudy's now very
gunky head. The fur on his head dried in stiff little spikes, making
him look rather pathetically punk as he lay there, limp and motionless.

At this point they sent Rich, Mike, and me to sit in the waiting room
while they tried to bring Rudy back to life. I told Mike he didn't have
to stay, but he just stood there, shaking his head. "I've never seen
anything like this, " he said again. At about 3 am, the vet came in to
tell us that the prognosis was good for a full recovery. They needed to
keep Rudy overnight to re-hydrate him and give him something for the
brain swelling they assumed he had, but if all went well, we could take
him home the following night. Just in time to hear the good news,
Officer Tom rushed in, finished with his real police work and concerned
about Rudy. I figured that once this ordeal was over and Rudy was home
safely, I would have to re-think my position on the police.

Rich and I got back home about 3:30. We hadn't unpacked from our trip,
I was still intermittently dizzy, and I still hadn't prepared my 8:40
class. "I need a vacation," I said, and while I called the office to
leave a message canceling my class, Rich made us a pitcher of martinis.

I slept late the next day and then badgered the vet about Rudy's
condition until he said that Rudy could come home later that day. I was
working on the suitcases when the phone rang. "Hi, this is Steve Huskey
from the Norristown Times-Herald," a voice told me. "Listen, I was just
going through the police blotter from last night. Mostly it's the usual
stuff: Breaking and entering, petty theft but there's this one item.
Um, do you have a cat?" So I told Steve the whole story, which interested
him. A couple hours later he called back to say that his editor was
interested, too; did I have a picture of Rudy? The next day Rudy was
front-page news, under the ridiculous headline Catch of the Day Lands
Cat in Hot Water.

There were some noteworthy repercussions to the newspaper article. Mr.
Huskey had somehow inferred that I called 911 because I thought Rich,
my husband, was going into shock, although how he concluded this from my
comment that his pads were turning blue, I don't quite understand. So
the first thing I had to do was call Rich at work. Rich, who had worked
tirelessly to free Rudy--and swear that I had been misquoted. When Iarrived at work myself, I was famous; people had been calling my
secretary all morning to inquire about Rudy's health. When I called our
regular vet (whom I had met only once) to make a follow-up appointment
for Rudy, the receptionist asked, "Is this the famous Rudy's mother?"

When I brought my car in for routine maintenance a few days later,
Dave, my mechanic, said, "We read about your cat. Is he OK?" When I called a
tree surgeon about my dying red oak, he asked if I knew the person on
that street whose cat had been in the garbage disposal. And when I went
to get my hair cut, the shampoo person told me the funny story her
grandma had read in the paper, about a cat that got stuck in the
garbage disposal. Even today, over a year later, people ask about Rudy, whom a
9-year-old neighbor had always called the Adventure Cat because he used
to climb on the roof of her house and peer in the second-story window
at her.

I don't know what the moral of this story is, but I do know that this
adventure cost me $1100 in emergency vet bills, follow-up vet care, new
sink, new plumbing, new electrical wiring, and new garbage disposal,
one with a cover. The vet can no longer say he's seen everything but the
kitchen sink. I wanted to thank Officers Tom and Mike by giving them
gift certificates to the local hardware store, but was told that they
couldn't accept gifts, that I would put them in a bad position if I
tried. So I wrote a letter to the Police Chief praising their good
deeds and sent individual thank-you notes to Tom and Mike, complete with
pictures of Rudy, so they could see what he looks like with his head
And Rudy, whom we originally got for free (or so we thought), still
sleeps with me under the covers on cold nights and unaccountably, he
still sometimes prowls the sink, hoping for fish.....
post #2 of 11
I believe this happen to Hissy .

That is M.A. story and happen to her .It is a great story and worth to read again .
post #3 of 11
That was a good story, and I'm glad I knew from the beginning that it was going to have a happy ending!!
post #4 of 11
What a story! That was a Hissy story? I'm so glad there was a happy ending!
post #5 of 11
yes, awesome story! Glad little rudy was ok in the end
post #6 of 11
OMG!!!!! That is one scary story! I am so glad that Rudy is okay!
post #7 of 11
WOW!!! That's some story! Scary, at times funny, and happy at the end. I'm glad everyone was ok in the end.
post #8 of 11
Hey- Perhaps this thread and Mary Anne's should be merged-

However as I said before this is an amazing story.
post #9 of 11
Quite a story! The naughty things cats do, huh? But I have to admit, I couldn't help laughing during the sink dismatling part!
post #10 of 11
You know it only proves a saying of mine. Think of the most ridiculous, impossible situation. Now put a cat in the room and find you really don't have an imagination at all.
post #11 of 11
WOW! What a great story! So happy little Rudy is ok. Hmm... now where are my little imps????
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Cat Lounge
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › This really happened