I thought I would be seeing Calicat again, but it has been almost a year since I last rescued her from a tree. This would be my third time to rescue her, and I knew from past rescues that she is the ultimate uncooperative kitty. She avoids me at all costs, yet, when I arrived, I was pleased to hear Toni tell me that Calicat has mellowed a bit and is now allowing other people to pet her. So, maybe if I play this rescue carefully, we could have a more normal rescue this time.
Calicat was perched about 30 feet high on the lowest substantial limb of the tree, and the tree rose much higher with few, widely spaced branches. She was next to the trunk when I arrived, but by the time I was ready to climb, she had already moved up and out the limb about 10 feet farther away.
Silly me. I was being overly optimistic when I set my rope on the next branch above Calicat. I was thinking I could just climb up to her, entice her to me and down we go. But she was on a very long limb, and if I needed to go out on her limb to reach her, then I needed for my rope to be installed much higher. Sure enough, she shunned all my sweet talk and offerings of food and would not even look at me.
To get closer to her, I needed to set my rope higher in the tree, but the limbs were so far apart, I could not quite throw my rope high enough to reach the next usable limb. I was forced to go back down to the ground and use my big sling-shot to shoot my line much higher. After several shots and one amazingly tangled throw-line stuck in the tree, I set my rope about 70 feet high and prepared to climb again.
While climbing back up, I released my stuck throw-line and let it fall to the ground to untangle later. I then climbed up to Calicat, and she responded by going even farther out the limb. She was well out of range of my 12-foot rescue pole, so there was no option but to go out there with her. To be able to walk out on her limb, however, I needed to climb up to about 60 feet so that I could move my rope to the other side of another limb so that it would not interfere with my rope as it angled out with me. I climbed up higher, routed my rope to the other side the limb and came back down to Calicat's limb.
The limb rose fairly steeply from the trunk, and I found it difficult to get secure footing. Except for one long-dead limb, there were no limbs above me to use to help steady me, so I used a rope farther out on Calicat's limb. By leaning against the pull of my climbing rope with my feet on the limb and using the other rope to pull me outward, I was able to work my way out about 12 feet. That was too close for Calicat, and she responded by going even farther out to the extreme end of the limb.
With the upward rise of the limb, Calicat is now about 40 feet high, and directly below us are some power lines. At lower heights, I would be tempted to use my long-handle net either to scoop her up or shake her out of the limb into the net, but I am not confident enough in my netting skills to be sure I could net her without missing. So I chose to use the rescue pole instead.
I extended my pole to its maximum reach of 12 feet, and, after inching myself a couple more feet out the limb, I could just barely reach her. She was in a precarious position on tiny limbs, so her mobility was limited, and that is the perfect time to use the rescue pole. I spent a few minutes trying to get the noose around her body by getting it under and behind her front legs. Once I accomplished that, I tightened the noose and tried to gently lift her. She was holding on to the tree so tightly that I could not lift her at that distance. I tried to pull her along the limb toward me, and then I began to have some success. As I pulled her along, I would try to lift her again, and each time, she held on so tightly that I did not feel comfortable lifting any harder. She was facing me as I pulled her along the limb toward me, and with a Houdini-like maneuver, she braked, backed up, and slipped the noose over her head. She was free, but she did not move back up the branch, probably because she was too exhausted.
Again, I worked to slip the noose over her and behind her front legs and soon had her again. This time she manged to turn around and head back up the limb away from me. As she did so, she managed to slip through the noose again so that it was now around her waist. I did not want to lift her that way, so I released the noose and started over. For the third time, I managed to slip the noose over her and immediately behind her front legs. This time I was able to break her grasp of the tree and lift her straight up. She did not struggle but she grabbed at anything within reach, including one of my ropes. Each time, however, I was able to break her grasp, and I quickly pushed her into the bag that I had waiting for her. Once she was all the way into the bag, I released the noose, withdrew the pole and let out a huge sigh of relief.
I came down and gave her to Toni who took her inside to release her. There she calmed down and drank some much-needed water and ate some food. I went inside to see her, and I took a picture of her with Toni, but it is too blurry to reproduce here. Calicat still did not want me to get close, so I kept my distance. As I looked at her under much more pleasant circumstances, I came to appreciate again what a beautiful cat she is. If only she would not be such a difficult girl to rescue.
I went back outside to remove my rope and pack up only to discover to my horror that I could not retrieve my rope. When I routed the rope around the limb at 60 feet, I knew that would make it more difficult to retrieve, but it should still be manageable. I did not foresee, however, that the rope would get stuck in a bundle of small twigs and leaves as I pulled it down. It was stuck, and the only way to fix it was to climb this tree a third time and move the rope back over the limb where it originally was. So, I did, and when I got back down again, I still had to face the task of untangling the mess of tangled throw-line. Ten minutes later, I had it all untangled, so I packed it up with all the rest of the gear.
From the time I arrived to the time I left, I spent four hours on this rescue, and I had already done another rescue that morning before coming to get Calicat. This was the first time I had had to climb the tree three times, once to 40 feet and twice to 60 feet. I was pretty tired and dehydrated, and, even though I brought a seemingly excessive amount of water with me, I had already drunk it all. Thankfully, Toni gave me some refills for my drive home so that I could recover. I was ready for some extended rest, but I had just one more rescue to do before sunset....