This dramatic series of pictures shows that when it comes to daring rescue missions there really is no point in pussy-footing around.
The fallen cat in the drain in Lincoln Photo: RAYMONDS PRESS AGENCY
The cat swimming in the icy waters of Lincoln's Sincil Drain Photo: RAYMONDS PRESS AGENCY
The cat climbs up a ladder to safety Photo: RAYMONDS PRESS AGENCY
Having completed its climb to freedom, it dashes off before anyone can even give it a rubdown Photo: RAYMONDS PRESS AGENCY
Firemen sent to save a kitten stranded on a ledge below a sheer drop into a river drain tried every trick in the book to pluck him to safety.
As is so often the case with felines, though, the cat had his own ideas - and steadfastly ignored them before staging his own great escape.
Having resolutely ignored dangling ropes that had been dipped in pet food, he suddenly leapt into the icy waters of Lincoln's Sincil Drain.
Then, as firefighters, RSPCA officials and council worked watched helplessly, he paddled along to a ladder bracketed to the drain wall.
Yelled on by a rapt crowd, he emerged from the water and started to climb 20ft up the rusting rungs - surviving several alarming slips on the way.
And, bedraggled and breathless, he finally scrabbled to safety at the top of the drain wall - where he dodged all efforts to dry him and ran off.
The tiny black-and-white kitten was last seen vanishing into a nearby coalyard, where he lives as a stray and relies on locals to feed him.
Fire station manager Dave Gilbert said: "I'm sure that in a few weeks' time he'll be back down there, but he can obviously get out on his own.
"To be honest, this isn't really what we deal with day to day. But we do save cats where we can if we don't have any other commitments."
One witness said: "It was high drama - especially when he was on the ladder. There were dozens of people cheering him on by the end.
"They were shouting: 'Come on, mate - you can do it!' He was soaking and kept slipping, but somehow he always managed to stay on.
"I've got cats myself, and one thing they're extremely good at is making you look stupid. They always do what they want, when they want."