Some rescues are quick, and some are not. This one was not. I was expecting it to be quick. After all, I rescued Fulvia twice before, though in a very different way, and they were the quickest of all my rescues. Fulvia got stuck on the neighbor's roof the first two times, and it took only a few minutes to prop a ramp up to the roof and let her walk down on her own. I remember putting the ramp in place and watching her happily walk down toward me, though I also remember that I needed to back away a few feet from the ramp before she would go all the way down. This time, however, she is in a tree, but I still thought I could easily make friends with her.
I was wrong.
Fulvia is a one-year old gray tabby girl that belongs to Bobbie, and this is the third time she has been chased by a neighborhood dog that sometimes runs loose. The first two times, she ended up on the neighbor's roof. This time, however, she was up a tree in another neighbor's backyard. When I first arrived, she was about 20 feet high (red circle in picture) resting at the trunk on a branch that extended far over a concrete patio. She cried to me below, and I was encouraged by that.
I installed my climbing line about 10 feet above her, and she handled that just fine. When I climbed up to her, however, she didn't trust me and walked out away from me and then stopped to rest on the branch facing me. "No problem," I thought. I will just make friends with her and get her to come to me. She looked at my attempts to woo her with indifference, and the closer I got to her, the more she backed away. I opened a can of food for her expecting that to make a difference. After all, she has been in the tree for three days now, and is certainly very hungry. While I saw her lick her lips and look at the food longingly, she refused to come closer to me. At that point, I wanted to use an extension pole to place the food closer to her, but I had forgotten to bring it with me. Since I was only 20 feet high, I decided to go back down to retrieve it. I got the pole, climbed back up and placed the food about a foot in front of her. That just made her more nervous, and she backed away from me some more.
Sometimes it's helpful to just go back down to the ground and give the cat a short break. Once I am gone, they may go back to the trunk of the tree and be more receptive to me when I approach again. I went back down again and saw Fulvia walk back toward the trunk. After a few minutes, I slowly climbed back up again, and, just as before, she walked back out the branch to get away from me and refused to come near me.
Fulvia was not very far out on the branch at this time, but the branch was very long, and I knew she would go farther out if I made any attempt to approach her any closer. If she walked out to the end of the branch, I would not be able to reach her with any tool I had. I decided to call Bobbie and let her talk to Fulvia via speakerphone. This is a trick that sometimes works as the cat recognizes the voice and thinks that I am her owner. Unfortunately, Bobbie was nearby on the other side of Fulvia from me, and, while Fulvia did respond to her voice, she walked away from me toward the real one instead of me. Now she was very far out near the end of the branch.
I went back down to the ground again, this time, to retrieve the trap. That was the only thing I knew to do at this point. I left some food for her on her branch at the trunk before I went down, and when I returned, Fulvia had come all the way back to the trunk and was eating the food. I climbed back up to her, and she continued to eat as I reached level with her, not because she now considered me trustworthy, but because she just wanted to eat as much as possible before getting away from me. I was very close to her for just a second, and then she was gone.
I set up the trap facing her and strapped it to the tree securely. Once it was all set, I went back down to the ground. I walked away out of her sight, but checked on her frequently from a far distance. I saw her approach the trap cautiously, but she stopped in front of it and just looked at it. Then she jumped to another branch close by that ran alongside the trap. She went to the back of the trap and tried to get to the food from the back, but, of course, could not do so. She came back to the front of the trap and examined it again. Then she went to the back again. She was trying to find some way to get that food without going inside the trap. After several minutes, she gave up, walked to the trunk, and then stretched far over to another branch (yellow arrow in first picture) and perched there. It would have been very difficult for her to get back to her original branch now, and it was pretty clear she was not going in the trap anyway. So, I climbed back up again.
This time, she did not walk out her new branch to get away from me. She was resting on the branch and panting. I think she was just too tired and dehydrated to do much at this point. She was just beyond my reach now, but I reached my hand out to her to let her sniff. To my surprise, she did sniff my hand, and I was beginning to think I was making some real progress. The next time I held my hand out to her, however, she hissed and moved out the branch a little farther. I kept trying to make friends with her, but the more I did so, the farther she walked out the branch to get away from me.
Silly me. I decided to move the trap over to her new branch. This branch did not have another nearby branch she could use to go around the trap, so I thought the chances were better here. When it comes to rescuing cats in trees, patience is a virtue, but what I was showing was stubborn patience, and that is not a virtue. I set the trap, climbed back down and watched from a distance for several minutes as Fulvia showed no interest in it at all.
I lost count of the number of times I climbed up and down this tree on this hot, summer day, and I was dehydrated after the first ascent. I drank all the water I had brought with me and even drank refills from the garden hose. It's time to get this cat down and get this over. Fortunately, Fulvia was now on a branch that extended over the house, and the roof was only 10 feet below at the most. Now I can try the riskier method of scooping her up in my net, and if she falls, she won't fall far. Plus, I already know I can get her down from the roof with the ramp.
So, I climbed back up the tree for the final time. I pulled my net and extension pole up to me and got it ready. Fulvia had her back to me now, so it would be easier to get the net close to her before she noticed it. I reached out toward her with the net, and just before I reached her, she noticed and started going farther out the branch. I reached as far as I could, but I could not get her. Now, she was at the extreme end of the branch out of my reach. I had only one option left: shake the branch until she falls to the roof. I stood up on her branch and started jumping up and down on it to shake her out. It took several jumps to make that happen, but she eventually lost her grip and fell the short distance to the roof. She stood there motionless as if trying to figure out what happened and where she was. Then she walked around the roof looking for a way down. There was none.
I could easily get her down from the roof with the ramp now, but I did not bring my ramp with me. I would have to go home to retrieve it and return to set it up for her. I came back down and packed up all my gear. Fortunately, I was only 10 minutes away from home, so I drove home, loaded up the ramp, and returned. I propped one end of the ramp on the edge of the roof and rested the other end on the ground. I would be an easy walk for her. She noticed it, but was still afraid of me. I walked far away out of her sight and waited. It took her a few minutes to feel safe, but then she walked over to the ramp and already knew just what to do. With no hesitation, she walked comfortably all the way down the ramp and was finally down on the ground.
I packed up the ramp and left. I had arrived at 9:00 in the morning, and it was now after 3:00 in the afternoon. I was dehydrated and very tired, but earlier I received a call for another rescue, so I would not have much time to recover. I ran home for a quick lunch and a few gallons of water and got ready for the next one. Oh, I hope this next one is easy.