Simba is a tame boy who is comfortable around strangers, so I was hoping he would be cooperative for this rescue. Since he was so far out on the limb, I was limited in how far I could go out to him and needed him to come to me at least a little part of the way. As I set up my climbing line, I had some difficulties and made some noise and commotion as small limbs broke and fell to the ground. All of this frightened Simba, and I was worried that he would refuse to cooperate with me. If he would not come toward me, then I needed to consider my options. There was another very large tree close by that I could use to set up a second rope that I could use in conjunction with my first rope to position myself much closer to Simba. I considered setting it up, but it was getting late, and I decided to just try to reach him with only one rope. If he did not cooperate, I could come back down pretty quickly to set up the second rope.
When I climbed up to his branch and started positioning myself as far out on his branch as I could, Simba started coming toward me. This was a very good sign! I was still trying to tie myself in and was not ready to rescue him, and by the time I was ready, he changed his mind and walked back out far away. Still, at least he has forgiven the commotion I made in getting there and is not afraid of me. I can get him back.
I thought I could get him to come toward me again pretty quickly, but I was wrong. He walked away and settled down on some small limbs and closed his eyes. He was tired and losing hope. I figured I could rejuvenate him with some food, so I pulled it out and used a long pole to position it very close to him. At first, he showed no interest, but after a few minutes, he began licking his lips and walked toward it. He was very cautious and took his time, but he did eventually go to it and eat a few bites. I pulled the food down a few inches to get him to come closer to me, but then he balked and no longer had interest in the food. He went back out, settled down again and closed his eyes. Food isn't working on this boy.
Since he was so uncomfortable on those small limbs, I thought he would be interested in the large, flat floor of the carrier. I opened the carrier and held it out as far as I could to him to investigate. He was curious. While the food was in the carrier, that is not what had him interested. He saw a comfortable place to rest. He carefully gripped the downward sloping branch and stuck his head inside. Yes, this was interesting, but he would put no more than one foot inside. He turned around and went back up the branch.
The carrier failed this time, but still this was improvement. He was getting closer to me and fearing me less, so maybe I should just reach out my hands to him. I put the carrier away and put my gloved bag on one hand and reached out for him with both hands. He was interested and came back down toward me. He came just within reach so that I could touch his head and face. He enjoyed the contact but could not come down any lower, and I could not quite reach him well enough to scruff him. He turned around and went back up again.
With this contact and the knowledge that I'm a friendly guy, he might now be more receptive to the carrier. So again, I held the carrier out to him. This time he was more interested. He took his time, but, after carefully sniffing the opening, he stuck his head inside, then one foot and later another. After another minute, he pulled his hind feet inside, and I had him. I closed the door, and he immediately felt betrayed and let me know it. He was not happy. But he was safe now, and I could bring him down just as the sun was setting.
It took me a few minutes to un-do all the ropes I used to tie myself in, and I'm sure it felt like an eternity to Simba. When I reached the ground, I handed him to one of the owners who took him inside and released him. The first thing Simba did was go to the litter box. He had been holding it for two days and needed to go badly. Cats don't like to pee in the tree because they can't cover up the scent to prevent detection by predators. So they hold it as long as possible. Often the stress of the rescue causes them to let it go in the tree, sometimes on or close to me, but Simba managed to hold on until he got to his litter box. Just imagine how uncomfortable he must have been with that full bladder while resting his weight on those tiny limbs for two hot days.
Simba recovered and is doing fine. His owners sent me this picture of him trying to rest afterward. He's a cute and sweet boy, and I hope his tree climbing days are over.
Unfortunately, I have no video of the rescue because I forgot to bring the camera with me. When I was in the tree, I reached up to turn it on only to discover it was not there. I had left it down on the ground. My camera troubles continue.