A Toledo cat shelter recently received an unusual call that resulted in a rescue effort to save a stray cat who was frozen to the bottom of a trash bin.
An unknown Good Samaritan called Paws & Whiskers Cat Shelter on Jan. 26 after discovering the long-haired brown tabby inside a garbage bin at the Hilltop Village Apartments off of North Byrne Road.
David Plunkett, manager of the cat shelter that's located just over two miles from the apartment complex, said the caller had been collecting aluminum cans when the terrified male cat surprised him with a growl.
“He said he didn't want to get bit or scratched, so he called us,” Mr. Plunkett said. “And he said the cat was frozen to the bottom.”
A trio of the shelter's volunteers headed to the scene. Toledo residents Charlie Moorehead III, Dixie Beach, and Tim Rawson found the cat inside the open bin along with a few garbage bags. The end of his tail and a foot were stuck in ice.
“There was some spiral ham in there he must have went after,” Mr. Moorehead said. “There wasn't much trash in the Dumpster and once he got in, he couldn't get out. Everything was ice-covered.”
Mr. Rawson said one of his first thoughts was that the wily street cat must have had a talent for jumping.
“There was nothing around for him to climb on, so he must have jumped about 5 feet up to the lip of the Dumpster,” he said.
As the most limber of the three rescuers, Ms. Beach said she didn't hesitate to climb into the trash bin to set about rescuing the frozen tabby. The cat began yowling and trying to run from her, freeing his trapped foot in the process, but was held in place by his tail.
“He was just petrified,” Ms. Beach said.
She kept up a steady stream of sweet talk and placed a blanket over the feline to help calm him. Ms. Beach then used her acrylic nails to gently work the cat's tail free of the ice.
“They do come in handy,” she said. “I brought hot water, but we didn't end up needing it. He had to lose a little bit of his fur, though.”
Once he was free, Ms. Beach wrapped the cat up in the blanket and the group got him safely into a carrier. A resident of the apartment complex informed them that the complex does not allow its tenants to keep cats, so the tabby was likely a stray.
The cat was taken to a veterinarian to be checked out and neutered. Other than a small wound on his foot, he was uninjured and healthy.
“He's doing good,” Mr. Plunkett said. “Everything seems to be OK.”
The cat hasn't been officially named yet, but the shelter staff has been calling him “Ham” after the spiral ham in the garbage that is the suspected reason why he got into the bin in the first place. Mr. Plunkett said Ham is mostly feral, tolerating only very limited handling.
“We're going to be holding onto him for a while to see if we can socialize him a bit,” he said.
Mr. Moorehead said the cat was lucky to have been found when he was, as he could easily have been more substantially injured by residents unknowingly throwing their garbage on top of him.
“He was back in one corner and wasn't making any noise,” he said. “Unless you looked in there, you wouldn't have seen him.”
The cold winter weather also could have killed Ham. Ms. Beach's first concern upon getting the call was that the cat had spent a night when temperatures dipped into the single digits trapped in ice inside a metal bin.
“I thought the worst,” she said. “It was so cold that night. I didn't think he would survive.”
The shelter has rescued cats from tricky situations before, like kittens who get trapped in car engines after crawling in to get warm. Ham's rescue story is one the shelter will remember.
“That was a strange one, for sure,” Mr. Rawson said.
Contact Alexandra Mester at:
419-724-6066, or on