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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Remodelling Project Traps Cat in Drywall

A basement remodeling project left Jany Chumas with one question after the drywalling was done - where's Mary Poppins? Chumas' pet cat was nowhere to be found after the workers installed drywall in a room Jan. 2.

Chumas said the cat is "the sweetest little thing but quite shy," so she assumed at first that she had run away.

As more time passed, she suspected the cat could be trapped, and she and her daughter headed for the basement to search.

"I called her - 'Here, kitty, kitty' - and I could hear this faint, weak meow coming from behind the walls where they had just drywalled," Chumas said Tuesday.

She called the Eau Claire Fire Department and a crew went to the home about 5 p.m. Friday.

First they cut a small hole in the drywall near where Chumas heard the cat's cries, but they found only insulation. A thermal imaging camera brought in by Battalion Chief Rick Merryfield detected a heat pattern in the ceiling.

When Lt. Steve Hanson cut a small hole in the ceiling, he found nothing, but when he looked in with a flashlight, he could see the cat on a floor joist in another room.

The firefighters had Chumas call into the hole, and soon a weak, hungry, tired and dusty Mary Poppins "came tumbling out of the ceiling," Chumas said.

Some food and water put Mary Poppins on the road to recovery from her five days behind the drywall.

"Another couple of days and I think she would've been gone," Chumas said.


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