08/31/2010 at 05:00 PM EDT
When Coweta County, Ga., firefighter Jim Cadenhead got a call on June 29, he didn't realize it would end up changing his life. Animal Control was dealing with a cat stuck in a 40-foot well, and Cadenhead had been deployed to help.
"We took the roof off of the well house and hooked up a little system to go down into the well," the La Grange, Ga., resident tells PEOPLEPets.com. "Then I grabbed the cat. It was very simple."
What wasn't so simple was figuring out the cat's future. Animal Control took the frightened feline to a vet, and from there he went to a shelter, where he waited ... and waited.
"After a few weeks I started getting a lot of calls from rescue groups, and I replied to one lady," Cadenhead says. "She told me a lot of people were following the story, and wondering what would happen to the cat. It got me thinking." After learning that the cat would be euthanized if it wasn't claimed soon, Cadenhead had a quick chat with his fire chief, as well as with his daughters, Kelsey, 10, and Sarah, 11. With their blessing, he decided to adopt the little fuzzball in late July.
"He's the first cat I've had since I was a child," says Cadenhead, who admits that "it's been a little bit of an adjustment." Now named Max, and presumed to be about 2 years old, the cat is meshing fairly well with the firefighter's two Rhodesian ridgebacks, and getting lots of love from Kelsey and Sarah.
"As soon as we got him they [started] making a schedule for him, with eating times," he says. "They play with him all the time." Thanks to his two-time benefactor, Max has gone from being stuck in a well to quite well off. Read more amazing rescue stories on PEOPLEPets.com:Heroic Dog Saves Owner From Boyfriend's Knife AttackAmazing Photo: Koala Survives Grating Car Accident