Tyson Hood was browsing Facebook one evening when he came across a post about a tiny kitten who had fallen into a storm drain. The kitten was trapped where no one could get to him and he’d been meowing for help for four days. Hood is the lieutenant of community risk reduction at his local fire department and has a huge soft spot for animals, so he immediately sent a message to the person who posted to see if he could help.
“I’m a bit of a sucker for animals in distress and sent her a private message explaining that I worked for the local fire department in a capacity where I may be able to help,” Hood told The Dodo. “The next day I heard a message notification ping, and we went to work.”
Hood didn’t have a ton of experience with cats and called his girlfriend for advice. She warned him that the kitten would likely be afraid of him, and making the rescue a little more difficult, and she was right. The little guy was definitely scared and confused, and it took about an hour and a half to finally free him from the storm drain.
“After meeting with Stephanie, the Good Samaritan who first recognized there was a kitten who needed help, she showed me the storm drain and explained that she’s been feeding [him] regularly, so [he’s] at least not starving,” Hood said. “After getting the grate out of the way, Stephanie brought some tuna and we placed it across from the tunnel so he had to completely exit the tunnel to eat. He caught on pretty quick that it was a ‘trap’ and refused to leave the tunnel if he could see me at all, but he trusted Stephanie enough … [When] Stephanie could see he had fully exited the tunnel to eat the tuna, [she] gave me a signal — essentially all I did was cover the tunnel with the net before he could turn around and run in. It was pretty close, but instead, he just ended up running fully into the net and I lifted him out.”
The kitten was a little panicked at first, but once he realized he was finally free and the people around him were safe, he began to relax — and it didn’t take him long to fall fully in love with his rescuer.
“As soon as he was out of the sewer and in a safe space, he was an absolute lover — nonstop cuddles,” Hood said. “Immediately took to my shoulders and nuzzle-purred repeatedly as hard as I’ve ever seen a cat do so. Which was flattering, but as you could imagine, he smelled horrendous. When I first called my girlfriend, Cheryl, for advice, before we hung up she told me, ‘This is how you get a cat — you make sure you take that cat home.’ I laughed and told her it’s not happening, I wasn’t really in the market — but after that smelly little monster loved all over me, I sort of fell for him.”
Stephanie already had plans to adopt the kitten once he was freed, which Hood totally respected. He told her that if for some reason things changed, he would be happy to adopt the little guy — and a few days later, he got the call. Through no fault of Stephanie or the kitten, the arrangement wasn’t going to work out, and Hood officially became the little guy’s dad.
Since the kitten had been found on Walnut Street, Hood decided to name him Walnut. He’s now all settled into his new home, and his new dad couldn’t be happier with how things worked out.
“I fully believe he must have had some sort of emotional imprint of good times cuddling on my shoulders because that’s the only place he wants to be if I’m sitting still,” Hood said. “He purrs like a chainsaw and headbutts like a rhinoceros and for some reason insists on sleeping splayed across my neck. Anytime his food dish is full, he leads me over to it and wants me to stand guard, which may be my lifelong penance for snagging him with a giant pool net while he was eating in his sewer home. But I feel like we understand each other, and we both had a pretty darn good day when our paths crossed.”
Walnut knew from the moment he rescued him that Hood was meant to be his dad, and now the pair are destined to be best friends forever.