It is never a good thing when a cat gets stuck in a tree, but in Kiki's case, it was worse than usual, because Kiki had kittens back on the ground who needed her. Kiki was only 20 feet high, but her fear of falling was even stronger than her instinctive urge to go back to her kittens. She had been there for three days when her owner, Jessi, found me and called.
Kiki was a feral tortoiseshell cat that began to visit the home where Jessi and her twin 3-year old girls lived. Over time, they gradually befriended Kiki, and Kiki began to trust them and stay longer. When Jessi discovered the litter of kittens hidden under a Sago palm in her yard, she brought them all inside where she could care for them. She also made an appointment with the vet to have Kiki spayed. The date of that appointment was the day that I arrived to rescue her out of the tree, so, of course, Jessi had to reschedule the surgery.
The tree Kiki was in was very large and had been struck by lightning in its past. The lightning strike killed the upper half of the main trunk and only a short shell of that former stem remains today while the rest of the tree continued to grow around it. The dead stem left a large bowl-shaped opening that Kiki settled into very securely and comfortably. She didn't have to worry about falling out of this perch as it was plenty big enough to hold her with room to spread out. When I arrived, I had a very difficult time finding her because only her ears were visible from the ground.
While Kiki was originally feral, she had become very tame with her newfound family, and she was very lucky that she found such caring and kind people. But I was concerned about how she would react to me, a stranger, especially in the tree where Kiki would feel more vulnerable. So I watched her carefully when I shot my throw-bag and line into the tree in order to set up my climbing rope. This often scares some cats, and Kiki was no different. She was disturbed by it, but she did not walk out on a limb or climb higher, and I felt a little encouraged by that. Unfortunately, however, that line in the tree became hopelessly stuck, and I was forced to shoot another line into the tree.
Shooting that second line into the tree was too much for Kiki. She did not want to hang around to see what was next. She walked to the edge of the trunk and tried to ease herself straight down the vertical trunk head-first. As expected, she could manage to hold on for only a couple of steps when she lost her footing and fell to the ground. She appeared to be just fine as I watched her run away out of sight.
Well, Kiki was down, but I was still going to have to climb the tree to retrieve my stuck throw-bag and line. While I did that, Jessi looked for Kiki and found her hiding next door. We left her alone for a while to recover and feel safe again, and I packed up my gear.
After I got home, Jessi sent me this picture of Kiki returning home and some pictures of the kittens which I have included below. Be forewarned: extreme cuteness lies ahead.
Kiki is doing just fine and both cat and human families are all happy to be reunited again. While I would have liked to bring Kiki down in a much gentler way, the important thing is that she is now down, doing well and back with her kittens. What Kiki doesn't know, however, is that she has yet another trauma in her near future: an appointment with the vet.