MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Last week, Murfreesboro firefighters spent more than an hour helping a local family with not fire but fur.

Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department officials were called to Shannon Wemple’s Celebration Cove home Thursday to help wrangle her daughter’s cat Cupcake out of a storm drain she ended up in after escaping from her house.

Wemple told News 2 she was hosting a birthday sleepover for her daughter at an AirBNB in Nashville when she got an alert from her security system that her back door was open. She had asked a friend to let her dogs out while she was away, and the door had not latched back when the dogs came back inside.

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“I had my neighbor go check and, sure enough, [the door] was open and [the cat] was gone,” Wemple said.

Wemple said she heard Cupcake meowing from a nearby storm drain and began trying to coax her out of it with both wet food and catnip, but Cupcake would not come out. Even a standard trap could not get Cupcake to leave the storm drain.

Then the rains moved in, and Wemple said she heard Cupcake howling. But the cat was too far away for Wemple to reach, so she tried a different approach.

“She was all the way beneath the road, so I called the fire department, because a friend of mine that is a fire fighter advised they could lift the grate,” she said.

Firefighters with Ladder 6 C shift arrived at about 8:15 that night, she said, but they were no more successful in coaxing out Cupcake than she was at first.

“She’s very afraid of strangers,” she said of Cupcake.

Even though the firemen lifted the grate above the drain and permitted Wemple to get into the drain to try to persuade the cat to come out, nothing seemed to work.

“She was frozen in fear,” Wemple told News 2.

Eventually, firemen were able to corral the cat with some cardboard, pull her out of the drain and return her to Wemple at about 9:30 p.m. – over an hour after they first arrived.

“When they finally got her, I was very relieved,” she said.

Cupcake has been her daughter’s pet for the last three years, Wemple said. She was found crying in the street as a young stray. It took a few weeks for Cupcake to warm up to the Wemples, Shannon said, but came to be the family cat after Wemple went on a coffee run.

“She became ours when I went to Starbucks and driving down the road heard her crying from inside the hood of my car,” she said. “I stopped, and my husband grabbed her. My daughter asked if we could please bring her inside, and that was that.”

Wemple said her daughter called her cat’s rescue the best birthday present ever and that the firefighters “saved her from a broken heart.”