AN ANIMAL communication expert has been left red-faced after calling firefighters to rescue a cat trapped in a bin, only for them to discover the animal was in fact a toy.
Dr Alan McElligott, an associate professor at the University of Roehampton in London, shared photos of the rescue mission on Twitter yesterday and shared his hilarious mistake.
The Bromley-based academic explained how he heard a “very convincing meow” coming from a clothes recycling bin and decided to call police for assistance.
Officers then called the fire brigade who turned up 90 minutes later and gained access to the bin, only for them to retrieve a stuffed toy.
Alan said the incident took place on Saturday mid afternoon in Penge, Bromley, South London and that he thought the toy cat was actually an adult and a kitten.
He shared hilarious photos documenting the operation, along with a link to the £73 toy discovered inside
The photos show police congregating around the bin, as two firemen attempt to gain access.
He also posted a snap showing the FurReal Friends cat that was plucked from the rubbish stood in front of an amused audience.
Dr McElligott shared the photos and said: “I went to a recycling bin to dump old clothes. heard the cries of a cat inside, so called local police to get it out.
“Police confirmed cat cries. 90 min later, the fire brigade came to break open the bin. The ‘cat’ turned out to be a toy, battery-powered one, with very convincing meows”.
Dr McElligott’s tweet has since gone viral and delighted social media users.
Markus_eichhorn wrote under the post: “Convincing enough to fool an academic expert in mammalian vocalisations.”
@SteveDi60413853 said: “That is hilarious. But your heart was in the right place, you did the right thing.”
@MaFt said: “Yep – my daughter used to have that very toy. I think it was a “Fur-Real” – I always used to think it was one of my actual cats in distress.”
And author Melinda Salisbury wrote: “That last photo. Incredible.”
Speaking today, Dr McElligott, said: “I was clearing up stuff and went to the dump. I didn’t get home for several hours.
“I thought there were two cats in there. It sounded like an adult cat and a kitten. It was activated by touch so after I dropped an old pair of shoes it activated it and started making noises.”
He then explained he called the local police as they had a building nearby and they eventually turned up and also thought they could hear cats inside.
He said: “One of the police officers suggested we drop food in there in case the cats had been there for a few days, so I went to Sainsburys as I had my car nearby and bought wet cat food and dropped it into the for the cats.
“The fire brigade eventually turned up and used their heavy tools to open it. Once it was opened there was no sign of the cats so the fire fighter looked around and moved some pieces of clothing around and picked up the toy cat.
“The two community officers, three police officers and the two fire fighters started laughing.
“I went red faced and apologised. We all then left as quickly as possible. I have a trained ear so that’s the irony.”