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A woman’s cat vanished. He got trapped in the walls after a renovation

Ashlin Hadden just wanted a proper-sized bathtub to soak in, but her cat Stripes had a different plan.
Ashlin Hadden punched a hole into her wall to rescue her cat Stripes, right, after it was stuck behind it for three days.
Ashlin Hadden punched a hole into her wall to rescue her cat Stripes, right, after it was stuck behind it for three days.ashlinhadden via TikTok
/ Source: TODAY

Curiosity didn’t kill Ashlin Hadden’s cat Stripes, but it did get him stuck behind some drywall.

On Sept. 28, Hadden left her home in Noblesville, Indiana, for a business trip to New York. While she was away, she’d arranged for a contractor to reconstruct a bathroom in her house.

“I’m a single mom, and I love my bath,” she told TODAY, adding that in addition to being Stripes’ mom, she’s also the mother to his sister, Cookie, and her two human sons, who are 6 and 10 years old. “So I just wanted a new bathtub, like a taller bathtub, so I could get in the bathtub and actually be under the water.”

As of Friday, Hadden's Tiktok video has amassed over 2.6 million views.
As of Friday, Hadden's Tiktok video has amassed over 2.6 million views. ashlinhadden via TikTok

To get the job done, Hadden hired a contractor she’d met on a mission trip in Panama and agreed to allow him access to her place while she was on her trip.

Before leaving, Hadden sent her sons to stay with their dad and prepped the place for her cats with automatic food and water dispensers, as well as litter boxes. She also shut the doors to her bathroom and advised the contractor that she was leaving the cats free to roam the rest of the house.

Upon Hadden's return from her three-day trip, she looked forward to a nice, relaxing soak in her new tub. She did not anticipate punching through drywall to rescue Stripes within minutes of stepping into her home.

“As I’m sitting here trying to figure out where my cat is, I can hear the cat crying from somewhere in here,” Hadden says in a TikTok video that shows her renovated bathroom, which she posted on Wednesday. It has since been viewed more than 2.6 million times.

Hadden says she knew something was up when a very vocal Cookie, who doesn't usually meow much, welcomed her home. "I’m like, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ And, ‘Did you guys run out of food?’”

She also couldn’t see Stripes. But she could hear him.

Hadden ran through the house trying to locate the source of his cries. “I’m upstairs, and I’m looking around and hear him meow, and I’m like, 'Oh my God. He’s behind the wall.'”

Stripes appeared in Hadden's viral TikTok video about their bizarre reconstruction experience.
Stripes appeared in Hadden's viral TikTok video about their bizarre reconstruction experience.ashlinhadden via TikTok

Hadden rushed to her neighbor’s house to retrieve a drywall-cutting tool and returned to free Stripes. But when she heard the cat cry, she feared that she might be hurting him and decided to punch through the wall instead.

Stripes lept out and, shaken up, scurried under her bed. After a bit of coaxing, Hadden lured him out so she could get him checked out by a veterinarian.

All the while, Hadden was panicking for her sons.

“I love our pets. They’re like children to me. But my children love these cats,” she explained, noting that her elder son, who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, has a special connection with Stripes that helps calm him down. “If this cat passes away, then what’s my son going to do?’”

Fortunately, with some IV fluids, Stripes was back to "his little pistol self,” Hadden quipped.

She said the experience has changed her cat, who is prone to running and hiding. Now, he’s much more present — on their laps and beds.

“He’s gotten lots of hugs and kisses and snuggles, and he’s kind of a different cat," she said. "He’s been really, really sweet and loving — probably because he was scared. He’s like, ‘I saw the light, and you saved me.’”

As for the contractor and that hole in the wall, Hadden says it’s all been patched up. She’s also amping up her cat patrol for days when she’s out of the house.

“I’m trying to make sure they don’t get any more traumatized than they were,” Hadden said. “I just left this morning for a one-day business trip and hired a cat sitter.”