HOUSTON - A Houston woman feared the worst when her two cats went missing yesterday from her apartment.
Natalie Pradia assumed they had wandered off or someone had stolen them. Surveillance video last caught them on camera around 10:30am. After the sighting, the two tabby cats named Ginger and Zelda seemingly vanished from her house.
"I come home from work. Rewind the cameras. Slow it down," said Pradia. "Skip forward. Go backwards. The cats just seem like they poof, just disappeared. You never see them leaving the apartment. You see the last movement and visual on them at 10:31am."
Understandably, Pradia grew increasingly worried. She and her family searched for hours outside at their southeast Houston apartment complex but with no luck. Pradia said it wasn't until she returned home and sat on the stairs did she hear the cats' cries for help.
"I hear meow, meow. They both have bells, so I'm hearing their bells. I'm hearing one cat scratch, which I know is Zelda because she loves to scratch anything," said Pradia. I'm hearing it in the floor of my front porch, which is behind the stairs."
Pradia explained she soon realized Ginger and Zelda were in the walls. It turned out a maintenance worker entered Pradia's apartment to do bathroom work. Surveillance video showed him entering and leaving the unit several times. He had cut into the wall over the bathtub as he worked to replace tiles.
Pradia and apartment management suspect the cats climbed into the open hole when the maintenance worker left. He soon returned to seal up the wall, thereby trapping the cats in a crawlspace.
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Friday morning, crews cut into a ceiling, and Pradia retrieved her beloved felines. Pradia said she used a can of treats to entice the cats out.
"I shook it, and two little heads popped down. It was my orange tabby and my black tabby," said Pradia.
They say cats have nine lives -- Pradia says both Ginger and Zelda lost two during the wall fiasco. They were trapped for more than 12 hours inside the apartment walls.
When Eyewitness News visited Ginger and Zelda today, they seemed quite happy -- although a bit tired -- from the ordeal.