Tina has several cats and is very devoted to them. She even built a very large, deluxe "catio" on the back of her house with a large open area, a large covered area, and an enclosed area, each furnished with stimulating features to keep her cats very happy. Unfortunately, Tina's house was inundated with four feet of water in the great flood three months ago. Tina even stayed in the house with the cats in that water to keep them safe. All the cats were greatly distressed by the flood and the destruction that occurred in their home. The flood not only destroyed and removed all their belongings, it also washed away their scent, and with it, their sense of territory. Suddenly they were in a place they did not recognize as their own.
In her distress, Colt managed to escape. She stayed in the area, but continued to be afraid to go back into her home afterward. It was as if she expected the water to still be there. She was even afraid of Tina, and would not allow Tina to get close enough to catch her even though she had been very affectionate with Tina before the flood. Colt continued to live a disoriented, homeless life outside but went to the house to eat daily, so Tina could at least keep track of her. But now, Colt did not show up for three days, and Tina was very worried.
Tina had found Colt, but didn't know what to do next. She called her friend and asked for advice. The friend told her that she had just been at the Animal Control office earlier and happened to notice my Cat Rescue Guy postcard on the bulletin board there. She called the Animal Control office to ask for the number, and they gave it to her.
When I arrived at Tina's house, I found her house, like all the other very nice houses in the neighborhood, in a state of re-construction. As I parked, I could see her far away in the large clearing behind her house near the edge of the woods. I walked out there to join her, and she showed me the tree that Colt was in. My heart sank as I looked into the woods at the large, tall tree surrounded by brush and vines and a four-feet high pile of limbs that appeared to have been dumped there. There were a couple of places on either side of the tree where I could walk, but I would not be able to shoot my throw-line into the tree from either one. I cleared out a path to another area and found it to be more suitable. I cleared more of the area and the interfering vines and limbs above me and prepared to set my rope.
I climbed up the tree by maneuvering over the debris pile at the base of the tree and pushing my way through some vines, most of them long dead. Fortunately, I was on the opposite side of the tree from Colt, so I could climb the large main trunk without being seen. Since Colt was clearly in a constant state of distress now even in normal circumstances, I was not expecting her to be happy to see me in the tree. I wanted to climb above her and approach her from above to minimize the chance that she would climb higher upon seeing me.
I climbed about eight feet higher than Colt before pulling myself around the trunk to introduce myself to her and see her for the first time. I saw a pretty little calico resting comfortably on her stomach in a bed of leaves and small sticks between the two large stems of the tree. She looked up at me and spoke but did not move. I was glad to see that she did not panic, but I was still worried that she might try to climb higher. I lingered there for a long time, because I wanted to give her time to relax with me and see that I am not a threat. After a while, I offered her some food which I lowered to her with a pole. Usually, distressed cats are not interested in the food, though sometimes there are exceptions. While I did not expect her to eat the food, I thought it would be worthwhile if only to let her know that I am friendly.
She looked at the food with some interest and stretched her neck out to sniff it. She appeared to be considering it, but ultimately she did not eat any. I gave her plenty of time to change her mind, but she was firm. When I lowered myself a couple of feet closer to her, she became more concerned. After a while, she looked like she was thinking about jumping down, but instead she decided to step down to a branch below her. I was relieved that she went down instead of up, but I was worried about her jumping. If she jumped, she might go deeper into the woods or up another tree, and I was worried that we would lose her.
The branch she was on was a dead branch that had broken off at about 10 feet. It was also hollow and just large enough that she could nestle into the hollowed part of the branch at its end. The first picture shows this position circled in yellow. I lowered myself down to the branch and, even though it was clearly dead, it was substantial enough to hold my weight as long as I remained close to the trunk. Colt looked like she was thinking about jumping again, but she remained in place.
I pulled up the rescue pole and net and prepared myself to snare her before she jumped. With her positioned in the hollow branch with her back to me, I could not see her front legs at all. I could position the noose around her neck, but I could not see well enough to get it in the proper position behind her front legs. Tina was below watching and helping me, but I had a lot of difficulty in getting the noose in the proper place. I eventually got it, but then she turned around, and I lost it. Again she walked back out to the end of the branch, and again I struggled with her. When she turned around and faced me, then I was finally able to get the noose properly positioned. Colt had a tenacious grip on the branch making it difficult to pull her up. But once I did, she handled it all very well. She did not struggle, but I did have to get her claws out of the net a couple of times before I could get her all the way inside. I secured her in the net, brought her down, and gave her to Tina. Tina took her home while I packed up.
When I finished packing up, I went to Tina's house to check on Colt. She was doing very well. This is the first time since the flood when she was finally in her catio getting reacquainted with her siblings, and Tina was very happy to have her back home again. I watched Colt as she walked around from place to place stopping frequently for water. When I tried to take a picture of her, she ran from me even though I was eight feet away from her. Later, however, she did the most interesting thing. From far off to my side, she slowly walked toward me and brushed against the back of my legs and continued walking past me. Tina said that was her way of saying, "thank you." I don't know if it was or not, but regardless, you're welcome, Colt. You were a tough case, but I am happy to see you safe and sound and home again.
While I had the video camera on the whole time, the only part of the video worth seeing is the end. Prior to that, the vines constantly slapped the microphone of the camera and obscured the view. The video, consequently, begins near the end.