Villagers in Moelfre, on Anglesey, North Wales, searching for a pregnant cat heard frantic miaowing coming from a recycling bin.
They began a desperate attempt to free the moggy, but the lock to the clothing bank was broken and couldn’t be opened.
People set off to find food to put inside the bin for the cat.
Attempts by the fire brigade and the RSPCA to open it failed, so the bin was loaded onto a truck and taken to a specialist engineering firm 20 miles away.
The firm used steel saws to get inside, only to find that the prisoner was just a noisy soft toy.
Kelvin Owen, who owns the engineering firm, said: “Once we got into the bin we heard the miaowing – it sounded just like a cat and we all started to carefully search the bags.
“Then I found a bag of toys and picked out a toy. I said: ‘It couldn’t be this, could it?’ As I held it, it went ‘miaow, miaow’. Mystery solved!
“The lads were in stitches, it was such a laugh.”
One of the rescuers, Jasmine Hazelhurst, from Anglesey Pets, said: “We feared finding a dead cat in the clothes bank so to find a stuffed toy was a relief.”
The stray and heavily pregnant cat called Puss Puss – who had escaped from an animal charity worker on the way to a foster home – is still missing.