Skip and Nancy Campbell live in Sacramento, California, and their house backs up to Chicken Ranch Slough, which has a stream.
Over the years, they’ve helped catch feral cats that frequent the area, even adopting some themselves. But on Oct. 24, they met their next furry addition without even knowing it.
On that day, 5.4 inches of rain fell — the highest recorded rainfall since 1880, according to Newsweek. The creek turned into a wide river, and when the Campbells went through their back gate to walk through the park, Nancy spotted a tiny head bobbing in the water.
Thankfully her husband, Skip, knew the lay of the land.
“I kinda know the terrain. It’s not safe to go out in the water like that, but for me, I knew right where it was flat, and so it wasn’t as much of a risk,” Skip told KCRA-TV.
Their home had been in his family since 1966, so he was very familiar with the area and was able to safely wade out into the water to try to catch the kitten as it was swept away.
“There’s a cat!” Nancy says in the video she recorded. “It’s drowning!”
While it first appeared to be a duck, she soon realized it was a kitten in distress. Its head is barely visible in the video, and it disappears underwater several times as Skip tries to get downstream far enough to catch it as it goes by.
With a precise grab, Skip managed to secure the kitten and hold it up, away from the water that could have claimed it.
Some people have taken issue with the way Skip held the kitten, scruffing it, but he later said that his veterinarian showed him to use that hold when working with feral cats who do not want to be restrained.
If he’d tried to cradle or otherwise secure the terrified kitten, it may have injured him, hurt itself or struggled and ended up back in the floodwaters.
After rescuing the feral kitten, the Campbells took it into the house and warmed it up. They planned to care for it, help tame it and find it a new home.
They named the gray kitten with green eyes “Stormy” — a rather fitting name.
“It likes to hide, not very comfortable coming up to you, but definitely more tame,” Nancy said a few days after they saved the kitten.
“It’s not trying to scratch or bite us, and you know, at all — it’s just kind of a little timid trying to figure out,” Skip added. “It’s never had a roof over its head before, and it’s just trying to figure out the surroundings.”
Nancy shared videos of the rescue on her Facebook, and Skip commented.
“Free Cat: Ok swimmer,” he wrote. “Private message for details. Available today, or tomorrow if you prefer a dry cat.”
A little later, they found the cat’s new adoptive owners: themselves. Stormy will be joining the Campbells and their animal crew, which includes two goats, a dog and another rescue cat.
“Well, here’s an update: I think we are keeping Stormy,” Skip wrote in an email. “Shocker I know. She snuggled with my older daughter Michelle last night for a few hours and it was over.”
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