Black panther of North Melbourne rescued

Katie Johnson

North Melbourne cat Diablo – or the “black panther of Plane Tree Way” as local kids call him – found himself in a predicament when he went for a wander in early October.

The four-year-old rescue cat was missing for six days before he was rescued by firemen from a storm water drain on Haines St.

Owner Sarah White said that she and her nine-year-old son were “very relieved” when they found him after days of searching.

“We decided to go out for a walk late, because my son was keen to go for another walk to find him,” Ms White said.

“We shook his food bag and called his name and all of a sudden heard this frantic meowing.”

“We followed the sounds and using the torch looked down and found him trapped in the stormwater drain.”

Ms White dropped food down the drain to keep Diablo calm and attempted to move the grate to no avail.

With the late-hour animal management services no longer open, she called 000.

“The operator said to me that he could hear that the cat and the child were very distressed, so he sent the fire rescue out,” Ms White said.

“The fire rescue guys were absolutely terrific; they used a ladder and Diablo was remarkably calm because he must have known they were trying to help.”

“He was very muddy but quite content to be wrapped up in a blanket and be taken home.”

Ms White said that while Diablo was lost, the encouragement from locals in the North Melbourne Good Karma Network Facebook page was priceless.

“I was out each night until midnight or 1am calling for him at the Arden Street Oval and all over North Melbourne,” Ms White said.  “Since he wanders around during the day, a lot of people know him, so I posted him on Facebook.”

“The words of encouragement from the Karma Network were really helpful – lots of people kept their eyes peeled and gave advice.”

Although he lost almost one kilogram from the ordeal, Diablo is happy to be home and is inseparable from the family.

“Diablo has stayed very close, and it has been quite difficult to sleep with the cat almost draped over my chest,” Ms White said.

“He’s very happy to be home and has been giving lots of love bites.” •

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