Benji is a sweet, 1-year old, gray and white cat who lives with Naomi and her family in Covington. When Benji got stuck in a small tree at the edge of a wild and wooded area across the street from their rural home, Naomi and her family were at a loss about what to do until it occurred to them that they could simply cut this small tree down. So cut it down they did. Unfortunately, to their surprise and disappointment, their faces fell as they watched Benji simply run up another tree. Now Benji was about 40 feet high in a tall pine tree, and this tree was much too large to cut down.
Naomi called the fire department, and, to their credit, they actually came out to see what they could do. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do. Benji continued to languish in the tree day after day while crying to Naomi for help. Naomi felt miserable and helpless, but she and her family could not figure out what to do. The month was August, and the heat was oppressive. Fortunately for Benji, however, each afternoon brought new thunderstorms and life-saving rain which she could lick off her fur. This misery continued for eight nights and days when Naomi's older brother finally found me and called. Benji ran up the tree on a Friday, and it was on Saturday, eight days later, that I got the call. If it had not been for the daily rain, Benji would not have survived the heat that long.
I went out there as quickly as I could. When I arrived, I met the nice family, and they took me to the site across and down the street from their house. Along the road there was a construction project in progress as all the ground had been torn up and a long line of pipe was lying immediately next to the pavement, presumably ready to be buried beside the roadway. The ground next to that was all mud and standing water. On the other side of the mud was a large wild and wooded area, and right on the edge was the large pine tree that held Benji. I could hear her crying and found her about 40 feet high looking down at us. She pleaded relentlessly for someone to come save her.
The tree, like all trees down here in the wild, had its share of vines and privet growing around it, but it was manageable, and there were several large branches well above Benji that I could use to install my rope. All I had to do was shoot a weighted bag with my large sling-shot over the branch I wanted. The bag is attached to a string which I use to pull up my rope. It is inevitable that sometimes the shot will not go exactly where I want it to go. If I don't get the branch I want on the first shot, then I will get it on the second. This was one of those times, except I was unsuccessful on the second shot as well. And the third. And fourth. Sometimes I got the bag where I wanted, but it would get tangled in the vines and have to be pulled back out. I changed my target branch to make it easier, but I failed at that one too. After eight tries and changing my target branch to yet another one that was much lower, I finally got a branch I could use to install my rope, but I had spent a lot of time and energy in the process. Benji and I were both suffering in the heat.
I could not stand the thought of Benji suffering any longer up there, so I prepared to climb as quickly as I could. After all the commotion I had created by shooting my weighted bag into the tree eight times, Benji had become frightened and walked out to the feathery end of her branch and rested there. Had I not frightened her, I think she would have been an easy and cooperative cat to rescue. Now, however, I would have to either charm her back to me or do a more difficult and risky rescue at the end of her branch.
I climbed up to her and positioned myself on her branch while securing myself with additional ropes above me. She was still afraid and stayed where she was at the end of the branch. When I walked closer to her a few feet, she became more concerned. While I knew she was too stressed right now to eat anything, I wanted to offer her some food just to let her know I was friendly. As expected, she had no reaction to the food except for an occasional lick of her lips. I held the food as close as I could get to her, but she never moved toward it.
I decided to use the net, first to prod her to come closer to me, and, failing that, to scoop her up. I pulled up my net and got into position. She was facing me, so I reached as far as I could to place the net just behind her. The approach of the net frightened her, and when it came immediately next to her, she stood up. I gently touched her rear with the net, and she began walking toward me. That was just what I wanted. When she got close to me, I reached out my hand for her to sniff. She sniffed it and decided I was alright. She let me touch her face and she pushed her face into my hand. We both relaxed as we made friends up there in the tree, knowing that rescue was now imminent.
Since the food was already out, I presented it to her again to lure her into the carrier. But she was not ready to show any interest in the food, and, consequently, the carrier had no appeal to her either. I put both away and prepared the bag. Again I touched her and petted her, and, when the time was right, I scruffed her and pulled the bag over her. She offered no protest at all. It was as if she knew this was a good thing. She was perfectly quiet as I bagged her, and she remained quiet for the entire, lengthy ride down to the ground.
Back on the ground, I handed her to Naomi's father who took her home to release her inside. I packed up all the gear and went back to the house to check on Benji. There I found her eating her food and clearly comfortably at home again. She greeted me and rubbed her head on my hand as if to thank me. She is a sweet and cute little girl, and I am so happy I was able to reach her and bring her down safely.
I have very little video of the rescue because, after all the trouble I had, I was so focused on getting up to her and getting her down, I simply forgot to turn the camera on at the critical times. Fortunately, I was able to grab these few frames from the little video I did have.