The next morning, I arrived to meet Bertha who led me to the tree on the fence line. When I say "on the fence line," I really mean it. This large tree had grown around a chain-link fence over a very long time and had completely internalized it. This was an impressive sight.
I could hear the cat crying above us in this tree and looked up to see him peering over at us below. While Bertha feeds the cat along with a few other cats, she did not claim ownership of it, and, consequently, had not named it. She also was not sure if it was a male or female. What was clear, however, was how much she cared about them. She had been very worried about him since he got stuck in the tree, and was very relieved that I was there to get him down.
As I prepared to climb the tree, the cat continued to cry down toward me, so I was expecting him to be a friendly and cooperative cat. When I climbed up to him, however, I could see that he was feeling very cautious about me. He put as much distance between us as he could without climbing higher. He was stuck on the short stub of a large branch that had fallen off long ago. Now that I was getting my first good look at him, I could see that he was a pretty black-and-white cat with a big smudge of black on his nose. Since he didn't already have a name, I am calling him Smudge.
Since Smudge was not comfortable with me there, I opened a can of food. He perked up at the sound the can opening, and when I held the food out toward him, he slowly came toward me. His hunger was stronger than his fear, and he cautiously approached. I held the food for him while he first got a small taste and then took a big bite. He liked this and wanted more. Hoping for an easy carrier rescue, I pulled up the carrier, but before I could even get it close to position, I could see him back away in fear. He clearly did not like the carrier, so I put it away and prepared the gloved bag instead.
I had to entice him back close to me again with the food. It took a little longer this time, but he eventually came back toward me and felt comfortable again. I let him eat and relax, and he let me touch him and pet him. I massaged his scruff, and when the time was right, I grabbed him by the scruff and picked him up. I pulled the bag over him, and he did not complain or fight.
I brought him down, and, since he was an outdoor-only cat, I released him there. He ran out of the bag a short distance and then slowed down when he realized he was not being chased. He jumped over the fence and went under his house to hide until he was sure he was safe.
After I packed up, I fed him the rest of the food. As he ate, the other cats in the family joined in too. Once they had cleaned the bowl, I emptied another can of food into their bowl, added some water to it to help him get hydrated, and stepped back to let him eat. He looked good, and he will be fine now.