'He was in a bad predicament': Rock climber rescues cat from Saint-Louis-de-Kent bridge

A Moncton rock climber rappelled to the rescue of a cat stranded more than 21 metres above ground for four days on the ledge of an eastern New Brunswick bridge.  

"He was in a bad predicament," said Nicole Thebeau of the Kent County Animal Rescue.

Children called the shelter about the cat, which was stuck on a ledge underneath the Saint-Louis-de-Kent bridge on Route 134 in the community southeast of Miramichi.

The cat must have been spooked by something and run in the wrong direction, when it found itself unable to get down off the ledge, Thebeau said.

But a rescue was not easy.

Rock climber Rehan Basson wasn't even brought in until after the shelter tried everything else to get the cat down — handmade ramps, blankets and live traps, which people lowered from the top of the bridge to the ledge where the cat sat.

"We have a hard time getting the cats to go into the live traps, when they're actually in the middle of a field," Thebeau said. "To get that cat to go into the live trap on the edge of a pier which is 50 feet (about 15 metres) up in the air was impossible."  

The group also called the local fire department, which brought its ladder to the scene on Wednesday.

But the rescue mission took a turn for the worse when someone tried to climb the ladder and fell 20 feet to rocks below. His injuries were not life-threatening, Thebeau said. 

Then the group finally decided to try a rock climber and called Fit Rocks Climbing Gym in Moncton.

"Usually we have charities coming to us asking for donations," Basson said. "So at first we thought we misunderstood and that's what they wanted … we got another message and kind of figured out that actually there was a cat stuck." 

On Wednesday night, Basson grabbed his climbing gear and headed north.

Scoping the scene

By the time he arrived at the bridge over the Kouchibouguacis River, it was dark.

But Basson refused to give up.

As concerned citizens watched, Basson rappelled from the top of a bridge to the ledge.

"When I got to the ledge, I could just see some eyes and the cat was meowing," he said.

Any wrong move and the cat could have easily fallen from the ledge, he said. But eventually, the cat started moving closer to the climber. 

"My heart was pounding like you wouldn't believe," said Thebeau, who watched the rescue unfold.

"The guy was just amazing."

Eventually, the cat was close enough for Basson to reach out and scratch its chin to calm the animal down.  

"It was a nerve-wracking moment," he said, adding this was his first animal rescue.

Basson had tied a bag to his harness, so when the cat was close enough — and Basson was in solid grabbing range — he grabbed the cat with both hands, put it inside the bag with one hand and used the other hand to rapel down. 

"It was amazing to be able to bring the cat back to its owners," Thebeau said.

At the end of his mission, Basson, who's also a cat lover, had a hard time letting go.

"I was saying if it didn't belong to anyone I would have a new pet."