Rescuers used drills, miniature cameras and a raw fish Wednesday to try to lure a kitten that has been trapped for 12 days behind a delicatessen's basement wall.

The effort to free 11-month-old Molly, the deli's resident mouser, was renewed early in the day, when workers heard her meowing after days of silence that had raised fears she had died.

An animal-rescue team tried using a tiny video camera attached to a plumber's snake on Wednesday, but the sound of its drill may have spooked the peripatetic pussycat into retreating farther into the maze of walls in the 19th century brick structure in Greenwich Village.

"This is the most difficult case of this kind I've ever been on," said Mike Pastore, field director of Animal Care & Control of New York City, which handles animal rescues for the city.

Normally Molly sleeps in a basket inside Myers of Keswick, a specialty deli offering clotted cream, Scotch eggs and other British foods.

Owner Peter Myers, 61, said he periodically pays a $300 fine for the health violation, "but if I didn't have the cat I would be paying a $300 fine for having mice in the store. I saw a mouse running across the kitchen floor this morning."

Molly, being a curious sort, apparently got trapped after slipping into a narrow space between two buildings, then falling or crawling through a hole to reach the deli cellar, Pastore said.

The police and fire departments have been on the scene but as of Wednesday were leaving the job to Pastore, whose agency receives about 120 stray or surrendered dogs and cats a day for temporary care and adoption.

Breaking into the walls is a delicate proposition because the building is a city landmark, Pastore said. Three observers from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission showed up Wednesday to make sure no serious structural damage occurs.

Others were pitching in to help. Neighbors left cans of cat food on the steps, and nearby restaurateur Renato Migliorini delivered a fresh, whole branzino fish.

"I hope it will come out, because I love cats and dogs," Migliorini said.

Pastore wasn't sure Molly could reach the food, and it was unclear whether she has access to water dripping from a drain.