Starbuck is a sweet, six-year old calico that belongs to Ryan. Starbuck is an inside cat, but she slipped out and got on top of the wood fence bordering the yard. The dog that lives next door saw her and started barking at her and chasing her. Starbuck jumped into a live oak tree and climbed up into it. She succeeded in getting away from danger, but now she was stuck.
Ryan and his roommates, Malory and Keenan, tried to coax her down but were unsuccessful. They called the fire department which referred them to another fire department which referred them to 911 which referred them to Animal Control which referred them to me. By this time, Starbuck had been in the tree one night. Malory told me that Starbuck is a very friendly and sociable girl, so I was expecting an easy rescue, but that, of course, always depends on where she is in the tree.
When I arrived, I found Starbuck about 20 feet high resting on an arching branch of a live oak tree. She was near the end of the branch where it was horizontal and, therefore, more comfortable, but the branch arched down to vertical where it met the trunk of the tree. It appeared that she would be able to walk down the branch part of the way, so I decided to install my rope on her branch between her and the trunk and entice her to come to me. There were no branches above her that I could use to get myself on her branch, but as long as she was cooperative, then I should be able to get her into a carrier while holding it above my head.
Even cats that I expect to be friendly and cooperative may get spooked when I shoot my throw-line into the tree near them, and if that happens, they can be just as uncooperative as skittish cats. So I was watching Starbuck carefully as I shot my line into the tree. I hit exactly the spot I wanted and was happy to see that Starbuck had no reaction to it at all. That was a good sign, but, unfortunately, my throw-line got hopelessly stuck in the tree in such a way that I could not use it or even pull it back out. That happens in this business sometimes, so I always have other throw-lines I can use to shoot into other parts of the tree. In this case, however, the only part of the tree that I could use was very small, and there was a high likelihood that another line would get tangled with the one that was already there and stuck. I didn't see any other way around this problem: I would first have to install a rope in another part of the tree, climb up to rescue the stuck throw-line, climb back down and then set up the rope in the original location to climb again to rescue the cat.
As I installed the rope in a different part of the tree which was close to where Starbuck's branch met the trunk of the tree, Starbuck began crying in a way that sounded fearful and distressed. Her cries sounded so bad, in fact, that I knew now that this easy rescue was not going to be easy at all. I knew she would try to get as far away from me as she could. As I climbed up the rope, I began pondering how I was going to handle it if she walked out to the extreme end of her branch.
Since I was climbing only to free the stuck throw-line, I brought only the minimum gear with me that I needed. As I climbed up the rope, Starbuck began coming down the branch toward me. This surprised me, since her cries sounded fearful. But as she came closer and closer, I realized that I had been misinterpreting her cries. She was crying more out of desperation and impatience than fear.
When I climbed as high as I could go, I was almost within reach of Starbuck. She came down as far as she could, and she was just able to reach my outstretched hand for a sniff. Maybe I could rescue her from right here after all. I would not be able to reach her well enough to scruff her into a bag, but I could hold a carrier up above my head close enough to her that she could easily walk inside.
I freed my stuck throw-line and then went back down to the ground to retrieve the carrier. I went right back up the rope with the carrier and again greeted Starbuck with my outstretched hand. I opened the carrier and held it up to her where she could go inside. Even without any food enticement inside the carrier, she readily walked all the way inside. All I had to do was close the door and bring her down. This rescue turned out to be easy after all.
Since I was not expecting to rescue Starbuck when I climbed up, I did not have my camera with me. I even failed to get a picture of her in the tree beforehand, as is my usual custom. I took a picture of the tree afterward so I could at least show where she had been, but I was never able to get a single picture of her. Thankfully, Malory sent this picture of Starbuck to me afterward, and it shows just what a beauty she is.