To Jena Ball, 9-year-old Oscar is more than a pet, he's her family.
So, she was beside herself last week when Oscar, an indoor cat, jumped from her apartment's second-story balcony and disappeared.
"I heard this yowl, and I came running down, but he was gone," Ball said Tuesday.
After searching for Oscar for days, she finally found the cat in a nearby storm drain.
"I walked over there, and I said, 'Oscar,' and I hear meow," she said. "I look over, and his little face is looking at me like, 'Help me.'"
The grate over the storm drain weighs more than 100 pounds, and people aren't supposed to remove the grates for liability reasons – they could get hurt, and other pets or small children would then have access to the drain pipes.
Cary Animal Control officer Shelly Smith asked a crew from the town's Public Works Department to remove the grate so that she could put a cage in the storm drain with food to lure Oscar out.
"I'm proud to say that I work for the town of Cary in a sense that they will come out and help in unique situations," Smith said.
Ball posted her plight online and received many other offers for help.
"I've had my neighbors," she said. "I've had people from Facebook, from all the local rescue groups.
A search was organized Thursday morning and Oscar was rescued from the storm drain after Ball, two public works employees, 10 volunteers and animal control officers spent 3.5 hours working to get the cat to safety.