Firefighters helped rescue Fred the cat from a gopher hole that he crawled into and was stuck in for two days at the home of his caretakers, John and Kathy Barron.

John Barron realized on Saturday morning that his cat Fred had been missing for two days. The cat food on the porch of Barron’s Griffin Road home was uneaten, and Barron hadn’t seen his gray tabby since Thursday morning.

So Barron went straight to the hole in his backyard where the cat regularly takes refuge.

“I wasn’t panicked, but I was worried that he was missing for too long,” he said.

Freddie, as Barron calls him, first came to the house where Barron and his wife, Kathy, live three years ago as a stray. When the couple started feeding him, he decided to stay. Fred never became an indoor cat because the Barrons’ other cats, Gabby and George, would have had trouble adjusting to him.

“He had been longing for a family, and he adopted us,” Barron said.

Fred had been beaten up by other cats before showing up at the Barrons’ home, and he was nervous whenever he appeared in their backyard. He wasn’t familiar with wet food or human affection, and he would dart into a hole in the backyard to hide whenever he heard loud noises.

When Barron peeked into the hole on Saturday, he couldn’t see Fred, but he could hear the feline crying in distress. The cat had maneuvered his way in from another, narrower entrance to the hole. Large rocks and concrete debris around the hole made it difficult to dig through.

Credit: Contributed

Barron started digging, but the difficult terrain, coupled with a lack of tools, soon exhausted him.

He called the Bangor Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch line for tips on how to get Fred out faster, and soon after, fire trucks showed up unexpectedly. Three firefighters started digging another hole to get to Fred.

“We got the call about a homeowner trying to extract a cat from debris,” Bangor fire Lt. John Gray said. “We were able to dig a connecting tunnel to get the cat out.”

When Fred first came loose, he ran right back into the hole. Barron had to crawl to the edge and call out to him to coax him back out.

“He was in shock for a long time,” Barron said. “I took him to the garage, and he crawled under a car and was hiding under it for hours.”

Fred eventually got over his scare, and he’s now wandering across the backyard again, Barron said.

Barron filled in the hole in hopes that Fred won’t get stuck again.