Ocoee resident, handyman take on kitten rescue mission

An Ocoee handyman recently helped a homeowner rescue a 5-week-old kitten that had fallen down a cinderblock porch pillar.

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  • | 3:43 p.m. April 22, 2020
Homeowner Jo Charles immediately took the kitten inside and gave it a bath.
Homeowner Jo Charles immediately took the kitten inside and gave it a bath.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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It’s not every day that you discover a 5-week-old kitten stuck in a cinderblock pillar outside your home.

That’s exactly what happened last week to Ocoee residents Jo Charles and her husband.

It was an eventful couple of days for the couple, who discovered a stray cat and kitten in their attic.

“There’s a stray in my neighborhood that had been hanging out on my roof for weeks,” Charles said. “Last Saturday, we were doing some yard work and noticed her crawling under the eaves on the front entrance. My husband called me out, and I looked up and the kitten poked its head out. I got a ladder, climbed up there and put some tuna and water out. She ate a little bit and then ran back in the attic.”

The two borrowed a humane trap to try to catch the kitten and its mother. Upon climbing into the attic to take a look themselves, though, they realized the kitten had fallen 10 feet down the middle of the pillar on their front porch.

“She cried all Sunday and Monday, and we said we had to find her,” Charles said. “The poor baby was just crying nonstop. It would break your heart.”

Charles called Jake McKenna, an Ocoee-based handyman who has done some work for them previously. It was late at night Monday, April 13, but McKenna — owner of Jake of All Trades and an animal lover himself — knew he had to help save the kitten.

The stunned kitten couldn’t take its eyes off its rescuer, Jake McKenna.
The stunned kitten couldn’t take its eyes off its rescuer, Jake McKenna.

“She’s one of my regular customers, and she reached out to me kind of late, and I thought it must’ve been an emergency, because I deal with homeowners’ emergencies, as well,” McKenna said. “I answered, and she let me know that a cat had been in her attic with a kitten, and the kitten fell down a hole. She has a two-story house. … There was no way to get it out from the top.”

McKenna carries around a stethoscope in his toolbox to help him find leaks, but it came in handy for this mission, too. He used it to find exactly where in the column the kitten was sitting, as well as to find a hollow spot to safely cut into. 

“To cut the inside of the block, I had to cut it to where it wouldn’t drop in so I wouldn’t crush the kitten,” he said. “The moment I started pulling out the little pieces I cut, I could see the cat poking through and it was meowing at me like crazy.”

McKenna was able to free the kitten, which was covered in dust but seemed grateful to its rescuers.

“That kitten kind of just clung to me like it wanted to be out of there,” McKenna said. “I pulled the cat out, and it wouldn’t take its eyes off me.”

“The poor thing was exhausted,” Charles said. “It didn’t fight, it wasn’t scared, it just kind of stared at Jake for a minute and let out a tiny meow. We were just relieved. Poor thing had been there all day. … Then I gave her a little bath, and we warmed her up and gave her some food. She was so cute.”

It wasn’t McKenna’s first time rescuing an animal. Just the day before, in fact, he was working at a property where he rescued four kittens in the attic. He also has seen squirrels and bats in attics.

“I’m really glad they did call me,” he said. 

There has been no sign of the mother cat or any other critters either in the attic or outside, McKenna said. The kitten is now safe with Rescue Cats of Florida.

“We drove her out to them Wednesday evening to her foster mama,” Charles said. “They’ll keep her until she’s about 9 or 10 weeks and get her fixed, microchipped and shots. We have dogs and are not currently in the market for a cat, but she definitely tugged at my heartstrings.”







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