This theme repeated itself a few days ago in Livingston when Wendy discovered a small, lone Siamese kitten in the wooded area by her house. She tried to approach it, but it ran away. She continued to try to make friends with the kitten over the next two days by offering it food and approaching it slowly, but the kitten always ran away and kept a good distance between them. Wendy was puzzled by the appearance of this kitten and asked the neighbors if it belonged to them. She looked around for a mother cat or other kittens but found none. She checked the websites for notices about a lost kitten and, again, found no answer. She continued to try to befriend the kitten, but it always did its best to avoid her. On the second day, it eventually escalated its escape tactic to climbing a small tree.
Wendy backed off and went inside to give the kitten time to come down the tree on its own, but the kitten remained there and even went higher. It also began to cry and appear distressed. After a few hours of waiting, Wendy called me to see if I could help.
When I arrived, I met Wendy, her husband, Matt, and their daughter Addison, and they led me just inside the wooded area to the tree which was holding the kitten hostage. The tree was small and skinny with very few limbs, none of which I could use to install a rope. The trunk rose about 20 feet, and it ended at that point, shown here at the top of the frame, with several small limbs shooting mostly straight up another 10 feet. The kitten could not go any higher as it was already in the thin, wispy tips of the largest of those limbs and far above the frame of this picture. There was no way I could get closer to the kitten than the top of the trunk, and there was no way the kitten could come down that vertical limb to me. I would not expect it to come to me anyway after hearing how persistently it had already avoided Wendy on the ground. If I could get close enough, I might be able to use my net or rescue pole. Otherwise, I would have to cut the limb, lower the kitten down to me and put it in the cat bag.
There was a ladder already leaning against the tree which I decided I would use to get started. I climbed the ladder to its top, tied myself into the tree and advanced to the top of the trunk from there. At my request, Matt removed the ladder for me so it would be out of the way. The kitten was distressed, panting and crying almost directly above me and still about 10 feet above me. I needed to get as close as I could, so I inched my way a little higher until I was as high as I could safely go in that tree.
The kitten was distressed, not only because of me, but also because it was in an uncomfortable and precarious position and occasionally would lose its footing. I decided to take advantage of its fragile footing and try to shake the limb until the kitten fell into my net. I pulled up my net and began to lift it into position directly below the kitten, but before I could even get the net close to it, it jumped out of the tree and landed on the ground. It sat there stunned a few seconds and then began to run back into the woods. It didn't know where to go though, so it circled back toward me and eventually pushed itself as best it could next to my box of gear in an exhausted attempt to make itself as small as possible and hide. It was a pitiful sight as it looked exhausted and resigned to defeat. Wendy and Matt slowly went over to it to cover it and then used one of my nets to contain it. It was too tired or scared to fight, and they easily got it into the net. They took it over to a cage they already had waiting and released it in there. Now it was beginning to panic, so I told them to cover the cage to help it calm down.
I came down out of the tree and packed up my gear. The kitten was still frightened and had no interest in the food and water in the cage. I wanted simply to keep it covered until it had a chance to calm down and feel safe, but I could not resist getting this one picture of it, since I thought that would be the only close picture I would have.
Wendy planned to take the kitten to the vet and either find the owner or find a new home for it. Even though the kitten was small, it just seemed so feral to me that I wondered if it would be possible to tame it. Fortunately, Wendy proved me wrong by sending these pictures to me that same evening. I was shocked to see that the kitten looked like it had already settled in comfortably with the whole family. The kitten calmed down and ate, and Wendy pulled it out of its cage purrito-style and held it until it relaxed and felt safe. It felt comfortable being held by Matt, and it settled happily on top of Hannah, Wendy's step-daughter.
Wendy took the kitten to the vet the next morning and reported that it is a healthy 7-week-old female. If the owner is not found, they have decided to keep it and, in recognition of its tree-climbing ability, have already named it Squirrel.