When Joanna told me that Bojangles, or "Mr. Bo" as he is usually called, was stuck in a tree again, I immediately began to reflect back on his first rescue. Before that rescue, she had warned me that, despite his normally sweet and gentle nature, his disposition can turn particularly grouchy at times. When she takes him to the vet, for example, he becomes so wild and uncontrollable that the vet must sedate him first. So I was surprised on that first rescue when Bo came straight to me and made friends with me right away with no troubles. Since I was afraid that he would have a negative reaction to the carrier, I chose to bag him instead. But that did not go well. Bo began to express his displeasure, and my cat bag got twisted. While I struggled to get the bag straight and to contain Bo, I lost control of him, and he fell out of the bag to the ground. He was fine, but ever since then I have felt badly about losing control of him. I was determined that this second rescue would be much more pleasant for him.
Silly me. Since he made friends with me right away that first time, I was expecting him to do the same this second time, and, since he was on the same limb of the same tree as before, I had visions of bringing him down in my lap. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, Bo was up much higher in the tree, and a lap rescue was no longer feasible. Even worse, it appeared that Bo remembered me and what I did to him last time. Sniffing my hand was as close as he would get to making friends with me again, and every attempt to touch him or even move my hand close to him was immediately rejected with an angry, menacing, screaming snarl with mouth open and ready to bite. Offers of food had no effect on his dim view of me, so, after several minutes of failure in my attempts to earn his trust, I was forced to concede that there would be no making friends or lap rescue this time.
I still had hopes that a carrier rescue was possible. He was very uncomfortable with his body resting in a fork with no good places to place his feet, so I felt sure that he would find the large, flat floor of a carrier to be very appealing. I held the open carrier up to him, and he did seem to find it at least interesting, but he would not go inside. Since this was the only good option I had left, I tried several times. He was a bit reluctant to go inside, so I gave him plenty of time to think about it. I held the carrier up to him with tiring arms for several minutes, and he finally began to show some slow movement toward it. Some cats I have rescued walk straight inside the carrier with no hesitation. Others need more time, and will go inside slowly and cautiously. Bo, however, brought the pace of movement down to its utmost extreme. While I stood there holding the carrier above my head, Bo moved at a glacial pace with occasional bursts of speed up to a snail's pace. First, one front paw went inside, then slowly he advanced the other front paw inside. Each movement of a millimeter required several seconds of rest to make sure everything still appeared safe. After several minutes, he eventually progressed to the point that he was halfway inside. At that point, however, he decided he did not like this and backed out.
Up to this point, I was actually pleased with his progress. If he went that far inside the carrier with nothing bad happening, then I knew he might do it again and go farther the next time. Another attempt was in order, but I needed to rest my arms first. Although Bo was completely outside the carrier, I failed to notice that he still had one paw resting on the front edge of the carrier. When I slowly and gently pulled the carrier away, I pulled it out from under his foot which, in his mind, was a severe and unmistakable gesture of hostility. I was now his #1 enemy and held in such contempt that there was no hope of ever salvaging any sense of trust or cooperation. He continued to fuss and cuss at me even though I was doing nothing to him anymore. He cursed my mere existence.
He placed his front paws up high on the fork where he had been resting earlier while his back legs were still down low on a small limb. There was no place for him to go to get comfortable, so he stayed there in that angled position. As I watched, I could see his back legs getting tired and trembling. I wanted to help him so badly, but he would not allow me to get near him now.
Normally, at this point, it would be time to set a trap in the tree for him, but that was not an option in this tree. That left the rescue pole as the only option, but Bo was so angry right now, that I knew he would fight violently to free himself from the noose around his chest, and I feared he could injure himself in the process. I wanted some more time to think about this and to give Bo time to settle down and get himself in a more comfortable position, so I decided to leave for a few hours and come back to, hopefully, a better situation.
I left my rope in the tree and went on to another rescue which, thankfully, was much easier. After that, I went home for some lunch and rest before going back out to see about Bo. Shortly after I got home, I got a message from Joanna that Bo had fallen out of the tree. Joanna's husband happened to be looking out the window when he saw Bo fall, but he could not see where he landed. Bo was fine and came inside to eat and sleep, and Joanna sent the picture of him below as proof. I went back over there to get my rope, and Joanna invited me inside. She went to the back of the house and returned carrying Bo in her arms. He looked quite content and calm in her arms, and it was a great relief for me to see him like that. I held out my hand to him and touched him, and he was fine with it. He was a perfectly normal, friendly cat who had no resemblance to the one in the tree that hated my guts and cursed my existence. I felt so sorry that I could not bring him down in a gentle way, and I wish I knew how better to communicate my friendly intentions to him in a convincing way.
Not every rescue is a feel-good success story, and that is a reality that I often have trouble accepting.