The weather forecast was not good. Tropical storm Barry was in the Gulf and expected to strengthen and come ashore sometime during the night. In advance of the storm, heavy rain showers had been forecast for my area in the late afternoon, but they did not appear to be materializing as predicted. Still, they could begin to form at any time, and the winds were picking up a bit. This would be a terrible time for a cat to get stuck in a tree, and I was glad that I did not have a cat rescue to do.
Then the phone rang.
The caller, Lauren, had just found my number when someone on Facebook recommended me to her in response to her post about her cat being stuck in a tree. Lauren had already suffered through the jokes, indifference, bad advice and platitudes that always rear their ugly heads in this situation, so she was relieved when I not only took the matter seriously but also said I would get her cat down. We just needed for the weather to hold off a little while.
I feared that the showers could start forming at any moment, so I rushed out there as quickly as I could. Though I drove through one shower along the way, the weather appeared just fine when I arrived. Lauren was already outside waiting for me and led me to the site. She had already sent a picture of the tree to me beforehand, and I recognized the tree as soon as I drove up. Lauren's cat, Kiki, was perched on the lowest limb of the tree which was a little over 30 feet high. Above Kiki were a few other live limbs, but, otherwise, the top of the tree was dead. The best limb I could find in this tree to use to install my rope was alive but the top half of it was dead.
Lauren described Kiki as a feral cat that appeared at her home about six years ago when he was still a juvenile. She tamed him very well and turned him into a sweet boy that is friendly even with strangers. I was certainly hoping that he would be friendly with me, because I would not be able to follow him higher into the dead top of this tree.
As I installed my rope in the tree, I was very relieved and happy to see that Kiki was not bothered by it at all. He even appeared to be playing with the lines as they passed very close to him. He continued to appear relaxed during the entire process. With optimism for a cooperative kitty, I climbed up to him carefully to make sure I did not give him any reason to be alarmed. He watched me approach and appeared to remain calm. Once I was close enough, I reached out my hand to him. He sniffed it and then let me stroke his cheek with one finger. He was satisfied with my good intentions, and I climbed up a little higher to get level with him. I petted him, and he pushed his head into my hand. Now that I was close, I could see just how big this brown tabby boy is. I was especially impressed with the size of his paws.
I had asked beforehand about Kiki's attitude toward carriers and knew that he had no real aversion to them, so I opened my carrier and held it up to him. He peered inside but, otherwise, did not seem interested. I opened a can of food and held that in front of him. He sniffed it, but as an exclusively dry-food eater, he was not very interested. Undeterred, I put the food in the back of the carrier and held the carrier up to him again. Again, he looked inside but still saw no compelling reason to go in there. He rubbed his head on the carrier opening but, otherwise, did not pay much attention to it. I knew I still had a chance with him if I just give him a little more time, so I continued to hold the carrier up to him and talk to him and pet him. After a minute, he looked inside with a little more interest and slowly began to step inside. He is a long boy, so he reached all the way to the back of the carrier while his back feet were still on the tree. I gave him a few more seconds, and then he pulled his back feet inside. I closed the door and brought him down.
Lauren took Kiki inside the house to release him while I packed my gear. It was only a few minutes later when Lauren sent this picture to me showing Kiki finally showing some interest in the food I offered him. He just needed to be down, safe and at home before he could think about food. He had been in the tree only one night and is doing just fine now. I am very relieved that he did not have to be in that tree during the storm. That would have been a very wild and scary ride for him, but, fortunately, he avoided that misery just in time.