It was early in the morning as I was preparing to leave home to rescue Miss Kitty in Tylertown, Mississippi when I got a text message from Stacey asking if I could rescue her cat, Mercury. Mercury had been stuck in a tree one night, but the weather was expected to turn nasty, and Stacey wanted to see if he could be rescued before that. The weather forecast told me that the chance of rain would begin around noon, and with a two-hour drive to Tylertown, I knew there was no way I could do both rescues in the same morning. Miss Kitty had been stuck for three nights already, so her rescue was more urgent. I told Stacey that I would have to rescue Miss Kitty first, but I would call her as soon as I finished.
It was 11:30 when I finished with Miss Kitty's rescue and called Stacey. The sky was cloudy but not showing signs of rain yet, so maybe I could get both rescues done after all. I told her that I could be there by 1:30 if the weather allowed. That is when she told me that the interstate highway in Baton Rouge was closed due to a downed power line. That closure was between us. There were no good alternate routes, and those routes would certainly be congested. Still, it would be almost two hours before I got there, so I hoped that it would be cleared by that time.
By the time I got there, the situation had improved, but the interstate was still closed. I took an alternate route which, as expected, was congested and slow, but the rain was holding off, and it appeared that I would have time for Mercury's rescue.
When I arrived, I met Stacey, her husband, John, and their son, Jonathan, who was standing under the tree ready to catch Mercury if he fell. Their daughter, Kendall, arrived later, so I did not meet her until after the rescue.
The tree was actually just beyond the backyard fence in the neighbor's backyard. I immediately became concerned about this fairly large tree when I saw a large hole near the base which revealed a large hollow area inside. Above, it appeared that the top of the tree or a large stem had broken off long ago, though there were limbs reaching very high above that point. Almost all the branches formed a large union at this point, and that, of course, is where Mercury was comfortably perched. To complicate the situation a bit more, there was an active and busy beehive in the hollow of the trunk just a few feet below Mercury. Despite all the evidence of a hollow trunk, the tree was still very much alive and reasonably sturdy as long as I stayed away from the stems that grew after the top broke off. If Mercury climbed any higher, I might not be able to follow him, so it was very important that I approach him carefully.
I set my rope on the opposite side of the tree from the beehive, and I did not expect the bees to be a problem as long as I didn't get on their side of the tree. The report I was getting from the family about Mercury's disposition seemed to suggest that I could expect him to be at least receptive to me as long as I approached him carefully.
I climbed up to Mercury slowly, and when we were first in sight of each other, he appeared uninterested. Fortunately, though, he was not alarmed or distressed. I tried to make friends with him, but he continued to ignore me. I opened a can of food for him, and he took note of that. He wasn't excited about it, but he did at least step up a bit to take a closer look. He still was not perfectly comfortable with me, so I gave him some time to think about it. Eventually, he stuck his head out enough to sniff the food. Then he tasted it. He liked the food well enough, but it did not excite him much. It took several minutes for him to get comfortable with me and the food before he finally stepped significantly closer for another bite. Now, he was within reach, so I prepared the gloved bag on one arm and continued to give him frequent bites of food. He eventually let me touch him, so I gave him time to get comfortable with my petting. Once he was comfortable with that, I massaged and then grabbed his scruff, lifted him out of his perch and pulled the bag over him. He was now safely in the bag, so I brought him down. The bees never showed any interest in us, and the rain continued to stay away.
The family took Mercury inside and released him there. With only one night in the tree, he was feeling fine and acting like nothing ever happened. The whole family kindly helped me carry my gear back to my truck, and then I met Kendall as she was happily holding Mercury in her arms.
The severe rain and thunderstorms did come later that night, but Mercury was safely inside in his favorite chair catching up on some sleep, and the whole family was very relieved to know that.