Bill lives in a small, two-story apartment complex, and when his gray tabby, JuJu, went missing one day, he eventually found her up on the roof of the U-shaped building. He tried to think of ways to get her down and people to call, but every effort resulted in failure. Then he called the Fire Department, and they referred him to me.
When I arrived at the site, I saw a very large, tall pine tree at the corner of the building. The tree had a large branch that reached toward the building, and from that branch, a smaller limb extended from it directly over the roof. The limb hovered just above the roof by a few inches and would have made an easy access path for any cat.
I installed my climbing rope in the tree, climbed up and used those same branches to walk over to the roof of the building. To my surprise, I could not see any sign of JuJu. There was no place to hide. If she were on the roof, I would be able to see her. Since she isn't there, I could only assume that she had come down on her own some way, so I told Bill to look for her on the ground all around the building. I left thinking that was the end of this case. But it wasn't. Bill called me later to say that she was still on the roof, and he had discovered her hiding place up there. There was a small hole (circled in red in the picture above) in the side of the brick wall that rose above the edge of the roof, and I never saw that when I was up there before.
I went back and decided to try a simpler approach this time. Since the building was in the shape of a U, the easiest way to get the cat down was to place a ramp from the edge of the roof to the second-floor balcony railing. I placed a ramp there, and it looked like a perfectly easy and secure way for the cat to come down. JuJu noticed it right away, came to it and sniffed it extensively, but she wouldn't walk down it. We tried enticing her down with food at the end of a pole, but she simply would not come down the ramp. I left the ramp in place overnight hoping that she would come down when it got quiet and she felt safer, but the next morning, Bill reported that she was still on the roof.
I returned for my third trip, and this time, I climbed the same tree, walked out to the roof, and, as expected, JuJu hid from me again. I knew where she was but could not see her. I tried to entice her out, but she wouldn't budge. The only thing I knew to do was to set a trap for her there and wait for her to go into it. So I set the trap and went back down to the ground. I walked away from the building to where I could see her on the roof. Sure enough, she emerged from her hiding place and noticed the trap and the food. It took a few minutes, but she eventually went inside and triggered the trap door. Success at last!
I climbed back up the tree and onto the roof again, and saw her there securely in the trap. She was not very upset with my presence and remained surprisingly calm. I picked her up in the trap and slowly lowered her to the ground where Bill was waiting. He took her inside and released her there.
While I was still in the tree, I contemplated removing the small limb that hovered over the roof to prevent her from getting on the roof again. But when I considered how she avoided me and how tall the tree is and how there are power lines running through the tree, I decided to leave it. If she does this again, I would rather have her on the roof than in this tree.
As expected, it did happen again. It was a few weeks later when I got a call from Bill saying she had done it again. This time, I wanted to spend more time trying to encourage her to come down the ramp. If this is going to happen often, we need an easier way to get her down. So I placed the ramp there again, but she still continued to refuse to use it. I don't know why.
Since the ramp wasn't working, I climbed the tree again, and, as usual, she hid from me and would not come out of her hiding place. So, I set the trap for her once again, but, this time, I was concerned that she would not go into it after being trapped in it once before. I watched her from the ground as she walked around and sniffed the trap, and, while it took longer this time, she did eventually go inside the trap and trigger the trap door. I had her again, but I don't know how many times I can do this. I climbed back up to the roof and lowered her to the ground just like before. Again, Bill took her inside to release her.
I told Bill to make a ramp of his own and train JuJu to use it inside the apartment. Just get her comfortable using it to go up and down from a table or shelf to the floor. That way, if she gets on the roof again, she will already be comfortable with the ramp, and he will be able to get her down by himself. I hope he follows that advice.