I have had two rescues in the past three days, both of which were disappointing. They were both successful in the sense that they ended with the cat on the ground and doing well, but how they got there is another matter.
First, was an unknown cat that was 50 feet high in a Pine tree in Denham Springs. She appeared to be a young torbie, but I never got a good look at her to verify that. She was afraid of me and went out near the end of her limb. All my coaxing, food bribes, charm and patience had no effect on her, and she went out to the extreme end of the limb where the tiny twigs could not hold her. She fell 50 feet to the ground and ran off out of sight. She appeared to be fine, but it is a very unsatisfying feeling for me that I could not bring her down safely.
The second rescue was for Bojangles, a large black-and-white, four-year-old boy who got stuck in a leaning Tallow tree in his own backyard. He had been there only eight hours or so when I arrived, but he was stressed and suffering in the heat of a very hot August day. He cried and cried while panting heavily and drooling.
I was concerned about how he would react to me, because Joanna told me that he was so wild when she took him to the vet that he had to be sedated. I immediately eliminated the option of using of a carrier to bring him down, since I was sure he would associate the carrier with that scary experience. Furthermore, he sounded so stressed that I was not sure he was even going to let me get near him. If not, then that would rule out using a cat bag, though I had reservations about that too. From what I heard from Joanna, this was a boy who did not take kindly to anything that confined him. The good news, however, was that under normal circumstances at home, he was not afraid of strangers. I clung on to that hope.
As I installed my rope in the tree, Bo walked out near the end of the limb. From the sound of distress in his voice, I was not feeling optimistic that he would be happy to see me. He was only 20 feet high, but directly below him was a wooden swing hanging from a frame that would hurt him if he fell. We got a long outdoor furniture cushion and laid it across the top of the frame to offer some protection from that potential hazard.
By the time I began to climb up to him, Bo still had not settled down at all. As I got closer to him, I could see him clearly panting and drooling in the heat out near the end of the limb. He was in bad shape and needed down now. I climbed up to him slowly and called out for him to be sure he knew I was there. He ignored me until I reached roughly level with him. To my utter surprise, without hesitation, he walked along the limb toward me and came straight to me. I touched him as he passed by and petted him when he stopped in front of me. This was great news, and I was very happy to make friends with him so quickly.
Bo settled down on the limb close to me and continued to pant and drool, but he was not crying anymore. His quick show of cooperation left me wondering if he would go into a carrier after all, and I was now sorry that I did not even bring it up in the tree with me. At the same time, I was seeing the possibility of a new rescue option that I did not consider before. He was perched on the limb level with my lap, and I wondered if he would be willing to go down to the ground in my lap. He was already so close, so I tried to nudge him onto my lap. When that failed, I tried picking up his rear end and placing it on my lap, but before I could work on moving his front end too, he seemed uncomfortable with the idea and pulled himself back on the limb. I was reluctant to be more forceful and risk losing his friendship, so I fell back on the idea of just using the cat bag.
I did not want to grab him by the scruff and bag him, because Bo is a big boy, and if he went wild like he did at the vet, I might lose control of him. I did not have any other options, however, so I prepared the bag while feeling a bit of dread. I made sure I had enough room and mentally practiced the maneuver. Then I petted Bo some more while massaging his neck. I gently grabbed his scruff and began to lift him, and I was pleased to see that he was handling it well so far. He did not complain until I began to pull the bag over his face. That was a serious violation, and he let me know it with a wild scream. I rushed to finish pulling the bag over him, but the bag was not looking right. It was all twisted, and I could not find the end of the bag. I pulled on all sides and still could not get the bag completely over him. As he began to struggle, I began to lose my grip on his scruff even while I could still see his bottom half sticking out of the bag. When I lost my grip on him, I tried to turn the bag up so he could fall into it, but he wiggled out and fell to the ground. I was no more than 20 feet high, and by the time he fell, he was below me a few feet, so his fall was not far. I saw him stretch his legs out, and he landed just fine on all four legs. He ran off and hid in the garage.
Bo appeared to be just fine, but I was feeling horrible that I lost control of him. I hate to see a cat fall out of a tree, and now I have seen it twice in three days. I came back down to the ground and packed up while Bo continued to hide in the garage. I knew he would not likely come out until I left, so I packed as quickly as I could. I wanted him to go inside as soon as possible so he could cool off. I drove home feeling down and criticizing myself for my failure to secure these two different cats, but at least they are both down and well, and that is what matters.