I was tired and not fully recovered from the two rescues I had already done that day, especially since one of them turned out to be a difficult, four-hour long rescue, but Maybelline had been stuck in the tree for two nights already, and I did not want her and her family to have to wait any longer. Besides, Lindsey told me that Maybelline is a very friendly cat, so I expected this rescue to go quickly and easily.
When I arrived I found a row of several pine trees, and Lindsey pointed out the one that held Maybelline. I could hear her but it took me a minute to find the all-black cat in the foliage. She was crying to us down below, a sign which I usually assume is a good one. The tree she was in left much to be desired for a tree climber, but there were two good larger and taller trees on either side, so I decided to climb one of those and pull myself over to her tree.
Unfortunately, the nature of the tree and my clumsiness combined to create a lot of noise as I climbed up to her, and I could hear increasing signs of distress in her cry. By the time I pulled myself over to her tree, she had moved as far out on her limb as she could to get away from me. I tried to make friends with her but she would not budge. I offered her some food, but she would not even look at it.
Since I was expecting an easy rescue, I unwisely did not even prepare the net or rescue pole for possible use. Even though it was getting dark, I decided to go back down, get the pole and net, and climb back up to get her. By the time I climbed back up to her, I was very tired, and it was getting so dark that I could not see her. I needed to be able to see well enough to be sure that the noose of the rescue pole was in exactly the right place, but with a black cat mostly covered in dark foliage at night, that just was not going to be possible. I reluctantly decided to leave her there and go back in the morning.
The next morning, I was hoping that she would have forgiven me for my clumsiness of the day before and allow me to make friends with her. So I turned on my charm and gave her every reason to trust me, but she still continued to shun me. She was perched 12 feet away at the extreme end of the limb, and I knew I had no choice but to use the rescue pole.
I had a difficult time getting in a secure position to use the rescue pole, but once I finally did, I prepared the pole and mentally practiced the maneuver. I turned my head behind me for a few seconds, and when I turned my head back to Maybelline to start the process, she was not there. I looked again to be sure she was not hiding in the foliage, but she was not there. She had just disappeared. I looked to the ground below and saw her walking off. She had fallen while I was not looking and did so without making a sound. The fall was only 20 feet, and she landed on soft ground.
I felt both disappointed and relieved, but I came back down and began to pack up. It is an unsatisfying feeling to not bring her down, but I am relieved her ordeal is finally over.
I don't have a single picture of her or even a frame of video to show. I did not know it at the time, but I had exhausted the battery on the previous two rescues and did not know the camera was not working for Maybelline's rescue. The image I used above is of another black cat.