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Kalamazoo woman rescues cat from downtown canal

Witnesses frustrated with lack of response from Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement team; KCASE director responds
Kalamazoo Cat Cafe Rescue
Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 19:00:55-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — If there's one thing Abbey Thompson is known for, it's that she loves animals. She has four cats, two dogs, a bunny, two love birds and six chickens at her home in Kalamazoo.

“Yes, we have a full house here," she joked. "That’s for sure.”

Now, she'd added an unnamed black domestic shorthair to the mix.

"We've been calling him River Kitty," Thompson told FOX 17.

That's a fitting nickname, considering that's where she found him. Last Wednesday evening, Thompson received a text saying River Kitty was stuck in a canal in downtown Kalamazoo.

The Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement Team was already on scene, but one witness told FOX 17 they didn't do much to help. Instead, they reportedly joked around, said they don't get paid enough to get into the nasty water, and left.

KCASE's Director Stephen Lawrence said the employees denied those allegations, and clarified why they couldn't do more that night.

“We’re not set up for any kind of water rescues here," he said. "We don’t have equipment for that. So we have to call; we have to call agencies; we have to call to see what we can [do].”

Thompson wasn't set up for a rescue, but she did one anyway.

“I didn’t hesitate," said Thompson. "I jumped off my couch and we went down there and I had to get him. I mean, I had to.”

She climbed down a ladder, waded through the water and grabbed the cat, bringing it to safety.

“Obviously it’s not something I would recommend anybody go do," she said. "At the time, I didn’t even really think about it.”

Lawrence said, “It worked out great for her. We’re glad that she was able to get the cat, but the risk that you could’ve hit a sink hole, that you could’ve gotten your leg caught in a shopping cart that was below the water, or stepped on something and got a serious infection, whatever. There’s a lot of things that can happen in that unknown water. My officers aren’t going to take that risk and I’m not going to let them take that risk.”

You can call it a high risk, high reward situation for Thompson, saving the cat and giving it a home, for now.

Thompson is only fostering River Kitty, helping him grow more comfortable around people.

She's also the director at KZoo Cat Cafe & Rescue, a place where people can go play with cats and adopt them. Thompson hopes River Kitty will be ready to go there sometime soon.

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