When Pat called me to rescue her cat, Ben, I asked her how he normally reacts to strangers. Pat did not hesitate to say that he runs and hides. That is almost a sure sign that he won't be cooperative with me in the tree, so I was not expecting an easy rescue. Skittish cats are rarely so desperate to get down out of the tree that they can overcome their fear of strangers and greet me happily, but I always hold out hope for the exceptions. Ben was not an exception.
Ben is a 7-year old brown tabby with possibly some Maine Coon in him, and he lives a very good life in a nice home with a retired couple, Pat and Noel. The house is surrounded by numerous trees, including some tall pines trees immediately outside the back door. It was in one of these pine trees that Ben got stuck, probably by chasing a squirrel. He has done this before, but the last time he did not go very high, and Noel was able to get him down by climbing a ladder. This time, however, Ben was about 45 feet high and out of Noel's reach. By the time they found me, Ben had been in the tree almost three days, and in the summer heat here, that is a long time.
When I arrived, I met Pat in the driveway. Even though Ben was in a tree in the back yard, she led me to the front side of the house because that was the best place to see him. Sure enough, there he was, plain to see, perched high above the roof of the house. He was perched next to the trunk of the tree crying out for Pat.
As I began to install my rope in the tree, I was concerned that the activity would scare Ben. He was a bit distressed at times, but he continued to stay in place. At some point, however, he got too uncomfortable and walked out to the end of the branch. I did not see him do this, and when I was getting ready to climb, I looked up to check on him and could not find him. I searched all over for him and could not see him. Since he was also being quiet now, I began to wonder if he came down while I wasn't looking. I got out my binoculars to search some more. It took me several minutes, but I finally found him, again from the vantage point of the front yard. He was far out at the end of the branch leaning out toward the house, and it is going to be very difficult to reach him all the way out there.
I climbed up the tree stopping frequently to give Ben some sweet talk. When I reached the branch he was on, I could not see him because the foliage blocked my view. To go out on the branch to get within reach of Ben, I would need to install two more ropes up a little higher. About this time, as so often happens when I rescue a cat, a neighbor decided to mow his yard. The noise of the mower made it difficult to communicate with Pat and Noel down below.
I spent several minutes installing my additional ropes to get into position to walk out on the branch. When I got into position, I looked out to the end of the branch and could not see Ben. The foliage blocked my view, so I tried looking left, right, high and low but could not get a good view of Ben. I walked farther out the branch and continued to look, but, still, I could not see him. At this point, Noel yelled loudly over the mower noise to me that Ben was already down.
Well, no wonder I can't see him! Here I am 50 feet high in a tree talking sweetly to a cat that isn't there. I felt embarrassed.
It turns out that Ben had jumped down to the ground several minutes earlier, but I never saw or heard him. This is the first time I have ever missed seeing that happen. Noel tried to tell me earlier, but I could not hear him over the mower noise.
When I got back down to the ground, I learned that Ben had landed safely in some soft vegetation and ran immediately to the garage. Pat led him inside and fed him. Ben had already finished his meal and was resting comfortably inside the cool house while I was still 50 feet high in the heat trying to rescue him. I felt silly, but I was certainly glad to know that Ben was down and safe. He saved me some trouble, because it would have been difficult to reach him where he was. But I still would have rather done that than have him jump and risk injury.
I never got a good look at Ben, much less a picture or video. I never knew exactly what he looked like until Pat sent this picture to me afterward. Pat and Noel were very gracious and appreciative, and pledged to make a very generous contribution to Cat Haven in my honor. Thank you, Pat and Noel. That makes me very happy.