The cat was spotted by a cyclist by the name of Becky Steel on the base of a footbridge, just off Heigham Street, with the rain-swollen river flowing past swiftly.
She alerted two other bystanders, Stephen Hawkes and Danny Mealey, who were closeby preparing to try out their new dinghy in the water. They paddled out to successfully rescue the cat and get it safely ashore.
Claudia the cat was rescued after getting into some trouble at Dolphin Bridge. Mr Hawkes said of the rescue: “I only bought the boat yesterday and we thought we would just take it out for a practice.“
At first the cat looked panicky but it wanted to come on the boat in the end.”
It was then handed over the RSPCA, who had been summoned down to the river bank. They took it to a nearby vets. A scan showed that the animal was microchipped and revealed her to be Claudia, who was three years old – who had been missing from her home for 15 months.
Adrienne Hamilton, of Stafford Street, said she had just about given up hope of ever finding Claudia after she went missing a year ago having being attacked by a fox.
“We moved house about a month after Claudia went missing but I used to go back to the area to look for her – about six months ago I had to give up as I assumed she had either been attacked or someone else had taken her in,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got that she had been found. It was lovely – she recognised me immediately and made this chirping noise she used to do when she saw me.”
The dramatic rescue took place on Tuesday morning. Becky Steel, who raised the alarm on her way to work, waited two and half hours to make sure that the cat was safely rescued. She said: “I love cats and I wasn’t going to leave it.”
Mrs Hamilton said that Claudia is settling back in at home comfortably and becoming reacquainted with her mother and sister:
“She is a little bit skitty and her sister is wary of her but she seems in really good condition and is settling back in.”
Happy endings like this are what we live for, aren’t they?
RSPCA Norwich and Mid-Norfolk will be offering free and discounted microchipping services throughout the month of April.