When Tyler's friend decided he did not want his kitten, Moxie, anymore, Tyler quickly offered to adopt her as his own. Tyler liked Moxie and has an appreciation for cats, and he gave her a good, loving home. Today, Moxie is two years old and, for reasons unknown, climbed up a large sweet gum tree in the back and is stuck. She did not stop climbing until she reached the highest large limb fifty feet high. Tyler didn't know how to get her down, so he searched the internet and found me.
When I arrived and first saw the situation, I felt a little discouraged. Moxie was sitting about 15 feet out on the highest limb, and the trunk of the tree extended about 15 feet above that and was clearly rotted at the top and likely hollow several feet below that. I would not be able to go out very far on Moxie's limb, if at all, so I needed her to come to me. Tyler told me that Moxie is skittish, but she could make friends with a stranger in time if properly approached. So, my plan was to be patient with her and try to get her to come to me.
I climbed up to a point where I could stand on the limb below Moxie with my head level with her limb. Moxie remained in her position facing me about 15 feet away. She clearly was not happy to see me, but she wasn't terrified either. I talked to her sweetly, held out my hand to her and even offered her some food, but she was indifferent to my every gesture of friendship. I called Tyler below and put him on speakerphone so he could talk her into approaching. Again, she was not impressed.
This rescue reminded me of one I did a long time ago when I was up very high in a tree waiting for the cat to come to me. The cat was at the end of a long limb, and it was just too risky to be aggressive and go out to get her. I would have likely had to use the rescue pole or net, and the risk of causing the cat to fall from that height was more than I was willing to take. So I waited and waited and waited. It took a while, but the cat did come to me, and we had an easy, low-risk rescue. That is what I now planned to do here with Moxie.
There are times when patience is the key to success, and sometimes, patience is just a waste of time. I waited a long time for Moxie to learn to trust me, but she never did. She eventually just turned her back to me and walked a few feet farther out her limb. That is when I decided that patience is not going to work this time. The only thing I knew to do that was safe was to go back down, retrieve the trap out of my truck and then climb back up to set the trap for Moxie on her limb. So, I went down, got the trap and started climbing back up. When I got up close, I looked up to check on Moxie but could not find her. I did not see her anywhere on her limb. I looked up a little higher, and there she was. While I was away, Moxie came back to the trunk and climbed up the hollow stem about 12 feet, so she was now over 60 feet high. My heart sank. Now, what do I do?
The trap was useless now, because Moxie would not be able to come down that vertical stem. She could not go higher and could not go out a limb. Moxie was trapped on a fragile stem. To get close to her, I would have to stand on her original limb, and the only option I had at that point was to use the rescue pole to snare her. There were no other options.
I worked my way up on top of her original limb, but I was not very comfortable there, because I had to secure myself with a rope around the hollow stem. It was solid down low and hollow and fragile up high. In between, it was varying degrees of hollowness, so I had to secure my ropes as low as possible where the stem was strongest. Once I felt more secure, I pulled up my rescue pole and net and prepared to snare Moxie.
Moxie was watching my every move and appeared to be getting more nervous. She called out for help, but no one came to her aid. I reached the pole up to her and easily got the noose around her chest just behind her front legs as she tried to step out on a small limb. I tightened the noose and lifted her out of her perch. She was not happy but did not struggle. I lowered her down to me and inverted the pole to shove her into the net I was holding open with my other hand. By this time she was terrified, mad and fighting. I put her in the net and reached up to release the noose around her. As soon as I released the noose, she somehow managed to do what I did not think was possible: she jumped out of the net before I could cinch it closed. I watched helplessly in horror as she jumped out of the net and fell 50 feet down to the ground where I could not see. My view of the ground was blocked by the foliage, and I could not tell if I heard her running off or not. I did not know if she was alright or not. Tyler was no longer there because he had to go to work, and there was no one else on the ground to give me a report. I was in no position to go down to the ground quickly. I had to slowly and carefully retrace my steps off that highest limb before I could descend. Once I reached the ground, I looked for Moxie but could not find her anywhere. I did not know if she was alright or injured, but after double-checking all around, I knew she survived the fall at least long enough to run off.
I reported back to Tyler and packed up. If Moxie was alright and hiding, she would not likely emerge until I left, so I left as quickly as I could. Tyler promised to report back to me as soon as he had information to share. Later that evening, he sent this picture and a text message to me saying that Moxie appeared to be just fine. In spite of the way the rescue developed, Tyler was still very grateful to me for getting her down. While I was very happy to hear that Moxie was fine, I felt sick at how it happened that she was able to escape the net. I spent several minutes analyzing the process and creating a solution, so, hopefully, I will be better prepared to prevent that outcome in the future.