Edison, NJ - After 36 hours, a cat or kitten, that people thought was “trapped” in a storm drain near Route 27 since Saturday, managed to free itself sometime early Monday, apparently leaving through a drainpipe opening, authorities said.

Several people called 911 at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday after they heard a cat’s meows coming from a storm drain between Costco and Walmart Tire Center, at Route 27 and Vineyard Road. Storm drains carry only rainwater runoff, and are not part of the township’s sewer system, which handles human wastewater.

The cat caused 36 hours of worry and frustration for Edison Township firefighters, animal control officers and police who were unable to reach or coax the cat to safety despite repeated attempts, said Deputy Fire Chief Andy Toth

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Firefighters and animal control officers – who were physically unable to reach into the drainpipe or clearly see the cat inside – spent hours on Saturday night trying to lure it to safety, Toth said.

“We put cat food and fresh water down there for the cat. But, we could not keep firefighters on the scene all night,” Toth said. “Rescue attempts continued on Sunday, without success. We could hear the cat, so we knew it was doing okay.”

Monday morning, when township road crews arrived with equipment, the cat was gone. “It found its way safely through the drain pipes to an opening in a nearby retention pond behind Costco and Walgreens. We believe that’s how this cat initially got into the storm drain,” Toth said.