It was late in the day when Joann called me to rescue her cat in a neighbor's tree. As she answered my questions about the cat and the tree, I began to understand that this would not be a quick rescue. If the cat were friendly and the tree easy to climb, I would have responded right away to rescue her cat before darkness fell. But her description of her "wild" cat that runs away from everyone except her and a tall Pine tree that sounded like it would require a very slow and tedious method to climb had me convinced that I would not be able to get out there and complete this rescue before dark. I will rescue friendly cats after dark, but skittish cats usually require that I follow them all over the tree, and it is not safe for me to do that when I can't clearly see the limbs that anchor my life line. I explained all my concerns to Joann and offered to rescue her cat first thing in the morning.
At the time I spoke to Joann on the phone, I did not know anything about the weather forecast which predicted a rainy day ahead. If I had known that, I may have decided to attempt the rescue right away regardless of darkness. After I learned about the weather, I felt some regret, but it still appeared that it would be possible to do the rescue before the worst of the weather arrived. The next morning, I awoke to light rain, and the weather radar picture was very discouraging. Fortunately, most of the rain was light, so I pressed on with my plan. I did not want to disappoint Joann and her cat, Flo, who had already spent four nights in the tree.
When I arrived, I met Joann sitting on her front porch, and she pointed to the Pine tree across the street in the neighbor's yard. I drove over there to get a closer look and to park my gear closer to the site. I easily found Flo who was perched in the junction where the trunk split into two vertical forks. She was about 60 feet high, and there were about 25 feet of additional tree above her where I would expect her to climb when she sees me climbing up to her. I wanted to set my rope well above her so that I would readily be able to climb higher to follow her, and, since the rope installation process often frightens cats, I also wanted to create that commotion above her so that, if she reacts by moving away from it, she will go down the tree instead of higher.
I saw only one place above Flo that was suitable to set my rope, and it was about 75 feet high and a difficult shot to make with my very large sling shot. I made several attempts and failed each time. Flo noticed the activity but did not seem to be terrified by it, and she remained in place. I reluctantly decided to set my rope on a much easier limb which, unfortunately, was below her and closer to her. If this frightened her, she might now climb higher in the tree to get away from it. As it turned out, Flo did indeed get frightened by this activity, but she went only a few feet higher and then out on a limb. That was the break I needed. If I could keep her on that limb, we would not have to climb to the top of the tree.
I began to climb up to her while talking calmly to her along the way. I intended to take my time approaching her in case I could make friends with this "wild" cat even though I thought that was unlikely. I climbed up as high as I could on my rope, and I was still about 10 feet below her. I advanced higher, one limb at a time, in a process that turned out to be uncharacteristically slow and strenuous. I had intended to approach Flo slowly, but not this slow. Fortunately, it seemed to work to my advantage as Flo remained on the limb and was not acting afraid of me. By the time I reached her limb, she actually looked pretty pleased to see me. I reached my hand out to her to sniff, and she did so. When I tried to move my hand closer to her, however, she backed off. I then placed my hand on her limb farther away from her, and she approached it to sniff it again. Again, I tried to touch her, and, again, she backed off a little. We played this game several times before she eventually let me touch her. She appeared relieved to know that I was friendly, and now she let me pet her freely. Just that quick and easy, this "wild" cat and I were friends.
I opened a can of food for her, and she was very eager to eat it. I let her have a bite and then placed the food in the back of the carrier while making sure she saw where it was. She hesitated only a few seconds before stepping inside the carrier. I closed the door and brought her down. The tree might have been difficult, but the cat sure was easy.
Once on the ground, I carried Flo in the carrier back across the street to Joann's house. We went inside and transferred her to a cage. Joann wanted to keep Flo inside a cage for a short term to make sure she was alright and to make sure she did not escape outside. Joann was very happy to have her cat back down on the ground and safe again, and her big smile showed it. I enjoyed a few minutes soaking up her smile and watching Flo clearly happy to be back home, and then I left. I was exhausted, but, even so, I felt good. Knowing that Flo and Joann are not suffering anymore and seeing them so happy to be back together again erases all the exhaustion, tree climbing difficulties and constant rain of the rescue.
Yep, I felt good.