In Playa del Carmen, neighbors gather during dramatic rescue of Rapunzel the kitten

“Rapunzel” fell 39 feet down a pipe into an underground sewage system.A kitten fell 39 feet down a pipe into an underground sewage system, but rescuer Cryss didn’t know that 24 hours before.

She had come home after vacation and heard the unmistakable sound of a kitten crying. It was very late and dark so she waited to investigate until the morning.

She still heard the cry but couldn’t find the source.

Finally, she left some tuna and food out to attract the hungry cat and went out to do some errands.

When she came back the kitten was still crying but she looked around and saw nothing. She asked the neighbors for permission to look inside their property and panicked when she heard that the cry of help came from a PVC pipe buried in the ground and covered by a concrete tap.

Cryss called me up and asked if I could help.

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I am a veterinarian, and I love my work so much that I never mind if someone calls me asking for help on a Friday night instead of calling to invite me to dinner!

I drove to the location and to my surprise found that this was going to be next to impossible.

How were we going to help a cat climb all the way up a narrow vertical pipe buried in the ground?

Suddenly, an idea came through. We could tie some broom sticks together and attach something to the end the cat could grab onto while we pulled her out. It took 12 brooms, a whole pack of duct tape, four rescuers, a fisherman, and three policemen to save the kitten’s life.

However, we weren’t out of the woods yet.

The kitten grabbed the end of the pole three times and three times she fell down. Twice after she fell the crying stopped and we wondered if after the splash her little body had given up and drowned.

Thankfully, a retired fisherman who lived across the street came to see what the fuss was all about.

We had a fishing net which we use for cats but it was too wide for the PVC pipe, so he bent the frame and tied a cable to the stick.

After two tries he had her!

More than 24 hours waiting underground and 3 hours of continuous effort, the kitten finally came out. We were all worried she would fall down again but waited patiently while the fisherman pulled the cord and there she was!

More than 24 hours waiting underground and 3 hours of continuous effort, the kitten finally came out.

Cryss wrapped the kitten in a towel, and after several thank you’s to everyone involved, she took the kitten inside.

The kitten, now aptly named “Rapunzel”, was about eight weeks old and hypothermic from her time in the PVC pipe. Cryss bathed her and fed her canned food, which she devoured, and we felt calmer once she had eaten and her temperature began to rise.

While Rapunzel’s struggle and dramatic rescue will be hard to forget, the most important thing is that she was ok.

She was put up for adoption and found a forever home through IFAW’s partner organization in Playa del Carmen, Coco’s Cat Rescue. Thankfully, Playa del Carmen’s community members joined together to give Rapunzel the happy ending every fairy tale princess should have.


For more information about IFAW efforts to help cats & dogs in crisis, visit our campaign page.

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy