Bandit is a one-year-old, gray and white cat that belongs to 11-year-old Keaton. They have been together since Bandit was a kitten, and Bandit sleeps in bed with Keaton every night. They have strongly bonded with each other, so when Bandit disappeared, Keaton was very distressed. The family searched for Bandit and eventually found him in a tree around the corner from their house in Denham Springs. They tried their best to get him down, but he was out of their reach, and Bandit could not be coaxed down on his own. By this time, darkness had fallen, so they reluctantly put off their rescue attempts until morning.
Keaton's father, Donald, called the Fire Department the next morning, and they kindly came out to see if they could get Bandit down. Their ladder was not long enough to reach Bandit, but I admire them for trying. Rescuing cats in trees is not one of their duties, but sometimes they will do it out of the goodness of their hearts. As they left, they gave my contact information to Donald, and he called me right away.
By the time I got the call, it was 10:00 AM, and a severe storm had been forecast to arrive around noon. The storm was forecast to be so severe that schools and government offices chose to close for the day, which is very rare. Already, light rain was forming ahead of the storm front, and I needed some time to get ready and another 30 minutes just to drive to the site. I had serious doubts about being able to start, much less finish, this rescue before the heavy thunderstorms arrived, but I thought about that kitty stuck in the tree during that storm, and I felt compelled to give it a try.
I rushed out there as quickly as I could and met Donald and his son, Keaton. They led me around the corner to the tree where Bandit was being held captive. Bandit was 30 feet high on the lowest limb of the tree, and there were some good places high above him to use to install my rope. In order for this rescue to be done quickly, I needed an easy tree to climb and an easy cat to rescue. The tree looked fine, so now I needed Bandit to be cooperative. While Bandit is not a cat to boldly greet a stranger, he can make friends with one in time, so I had hope that I could make friends with him. The rain was holding off, and I heard no sounds of thunder in the distance, so I began to install my rope.
When I set up my very large sling shot to shoot the weighted bag into the tree, Keaton became alarmed, because he thought I was going to use it to shoot Bandit out of the tree. I reassured him that I intended to shoot the bag very high in the tree above Bandit and I had no intention of causing any harm to Bandit. In my rush to get this rescue done, I was failing to consider how distressed and worried Keaton had been about this whole ordeal.
Fortunately, the rope installation process went fairly quickly, but the commotion I created in the tree frightened Bandit. He was settled down about 10 feet out on the limb and remained there, so I was not worried about him coming back to the trunk and climbing higher. He could, however, go farther out on his limb, but the limb was not super long, and I would be able to go out there to get him if that became necessary.
I climbed up the tree and approached Bandit slowly. He called out to me and remained crouched down in the same spot. I pulled myself level with him and calmly called him. I was not expecting him to come straight to me right away, but I would have been very happy if he had. Before I climbed up the tree, Keaton gave me a large container of treats that they often use to call Bandit to them. When they shake the container, Bandit always comes running. I pulled that container out and gave it a shake. Sure enough, Bandit responded to it and stood up. He did not come running to me, but at least I had him interested and moving in the right direction.
Bandit took only a few steps toward me and stopped there and sat down again. He talked to me frequently and responded to the calls of the family below, but he did not come any closer. I spent another couple minutes coaxing him and shaking the treats to no avail, but when he heard the sound of my unscrewing the cap to the treat container, he perked up and began to walk toward me. I had already placed the carrier on the limb facing him, and he seemed more interested in it than the treats. I had not even pulled any treats out of the container, and there was no food inside the carrier. In spite of that, Bandit walked past me straight into the carrier without any concern about me at all. I petted his back as he walked inside. He went all the way inside, and I closed the door. He was calm and relaxed even after the door was closed. He seemed to trust me and know that this was a good thing.
Bandit was perfectly quiet and calm as I brought him down. I placed the carrier on the ground, and Keaton came over to greet him. He squatted down and put his finger through the carrier door, and Bandit sniffed it knowing that he was safe again. Keaton had been worried about Bandit, but now he was visibly relieved and calm again. It was a great pleasure for me to see him reconnecting with his buddy. With the exchange of a simple gesture and gaze, their bond was restored. He did not say a word, but he did not need to do so. It was clear to me that he was happy again, and that is all the thanks I wanted. As if that were not enough, Keaton got up and, without a word, gave me a strong, heartfelt hug. I could not have been happier, and I was so glad that I chose to attempt this rescue in spite of the weather threat.
Keaton and Donald walked Bandit back home while I packed up. I stopped by their house on the way out to pick up the carrier. They kindly offered me water and brownies, but I wanted to get home before the bad weather started. I drove off as light rain began to fall. The rain became heavier and harder the closer I got to home, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and I made it home safely and with a warm feeling in my heart.
Later that evening, Donald sent this picture of Bandit to me. Bandit found a cardboard box with several rags in it, made a comfortable bed there and fell into a deep sleep.