John was shocked and could not believe his luck. He had just searched the internet for a solution that seemed inconceivable -- cat stuck in a tree in Baton Rouge -- and, suddenly, my website appeared and turned his inconceivable solution into a reality. John's two-year-old cat, Alice, got stuck in a large live oak tree in his back yard the day before, and he and, especially, his wife, were distraught over it and at a loss about what to do. After discovering my website and talking with me on the phone, now they had hope.
When I arrived, I met John who was using crutches and recovering from a near-fatal accident just one month before. He had been jogging when he was hit by a car that was estimated to be moving somewhere between 45 and 60 MPH. He was hit broadside in the center of the car, slammed into the windshield and thrown 90 feet away. It is very rare for a person to survive such a collision, but he is one of those rare people, even though, amazingly, the car was totaled. He has suffered through a very long recovery and has more to go, but it appears he will be fine in time.
John led me to the back yard and pointed to Alice in the tree. After that, he sat on the patio where he could keep his leg elevated and watch the rescue from there. Alice was 40 feet high on a long branch of the live oak that arched far over the back yard. She was described as a sweet cat that could easily make friends with strangers, and I was certainly hoping that was true, since I dreaded the thought of chasing her all over that huge tree. In a tree like this, I really need her cooperation.
I installed my rope a few feet away from Alice on the same branch, and, while she got a little nervous, she stayed in place and handled it well. She was on the opposite side of the branch and could not see me as I climbed up to her, so I called out to her frequently to make sure she knew I was getting close and not surprised at my sudden appearance. By the time she first saw me, I was level with her. She appeared to be a little frightened and cautious but did not turn around to get away from me, and I did my best to keep her calm.
We were about eight feet apart, and Alice was partly hidden behind the junction where the branch split into two with one fork below the other. I pulled myself up to where I could sit on the lower fork and scoot closer to Alice. I was not sure if it was possible for Alice to come to me on that lower fork, because there was very little level surface along that junction for her feet to use, and from my position sitting on the lower fork, I was not sure I could reach her on the other side of that large junction. It was an awkward spot to be in with the upper fork giving me little head-room, and I was pondering my options when Alice decided to solve the problem for me. She decided I was trustworthy and somehow stepped along that junction and came next to me. I petted her, and she was so happy to have some company that she stepped onto my lap. That is the best gift she could have given me. This is a very sweet girl, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with her there in my lap.
Alice was very comfortable in my lap, and, indeed, appeared to have no intention of leaving, and I would have been delighted to bring her down in my lap were it not for the contortions I would have to go through to get back to my original position to descend. My next preferred option was to bring her down in the carrier, so I opened the carrier and even put some food in the back, but she had no interest in either. She was not bothered by the carrier; she just simply saw nothing there of relevance to her. Now, my only option was to bag her, and I did not want to scruff this sweet girl who trusted me and rested in my lap. But it needed to be done, so I put her in the bag, and she, not surprisingly, felt betrayed and angry and told me so.
I brought Alice down, and John's uncle took her inside the house to release her. John's wife was at work, but he let her know that Alice was down and safe, and she was ecstatic. John jokingly said that she wasn't this happy even when they married. Alice hid under a bed for a long while until all was safe but emerged later and socialized with everyone and generally acted like everything was normal. She took a short nap under the Christmas tree and later settled in for a long sleep in her comfortable bed.
I am very disappointed to report that my helmet-mounted camera malfunctioned in a serious way for this rescue, so I have almost no pictures to show. Even so, I will remember that sweet little girl who got in my lap and settled there. Thank you, John, for providing these last two pictures, and I wish for you a speedy and full recovery.