ST. ALBANS CITY, Vt. -
Andy Brulotte has delivered mail in St. Albans City for 12 years.
"When I came around and put the mail in the box I heard this screech, a cat yell," he said.
A horrible sound and unbelievable sight on a recent postal route stopped him in his tracks.
"I tried to help her through the hole but she wasn't going anywhere," Brulotte said.
They say cats have nine lives. And this may be proof-- a kitten stuck in a storm drainage grate clinging to life.
"She was very cold and becoming tired by that time," Brulotte said.
The 5-month-old kitten somehow ended up underground in the city's storm drain system. When it tried to escape, it got its head stuck in a grate and couldn't retreat. The cat used a pile of snow beneath the grate to try to climb out. But it was melting and time was running out. The cat was close to hanging when Andy found her-- just one paw holding her up.
"She literally wore down the claws on both front feet trying to claw her way out and chipped one of her front teeth," Brulotte said.
The veterinarian says she'd likely been stuck from dusk till dawn.
"She had a pretty bad night," Brulotte said.
If getting stuck in a storm drain wasn't bad enough, the cat faced another danger, too. A snowplow driver clearing out the parking lot ran over the cat... twice! The recessed drain and skids on the plow gave the kitty's head just enough clearance.
Brulotte called for help. A police officer, a public works employee and a woman who happened to be walking by freed the cat, using a sledgehammer and crow bar to remove the grate and dish detergent to lube the cat to pull it out.
"The kind lady there and I worked to line up the body just right to fold the ears and slip the body back through," Brulotte said.
Other than a little frostbite, the cat, now named Kismet, got a clean bill of health and-- it turns out-- a home after the harrowing ordeal.
"I immediately became attached," Brulotte said. "Contacted my wife. And we ended up with a kitten."
His old cat died in September, about the same time this one was born. So, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Kismet is still skittish around strangers, finding new hiding spots around Andy's house. But she's coming around.
"This one is immediately part of the family. And is going to be," Brulotte said. "She's a new addition and already attached."
My mailman is awesome! This poor kitty was so lucky...