It was early afternoon on the Fourth of July when I got a call from the 911 Emergency office in Port Allen.  The operator told me that someone had called asking for help with a cat stuck in a tree.  She gave me the caller's phone number, and I said I would call him right away.  I spoke with Victor who told me that his four-month old kitten named Smoke had been stuck in a tree for four days.  In the summer heat here, that is a very long time.

I packed up my gear, and as I began to leave, the clouds began building up and threatening another one of the typical afternoon thunderstorms that so often occur here in the summers.  I checked the weather radar picture and saw a storm passing over us, but after that was over, it should be clear for a good while.  I drove on over in a heavy downpour expecting it to be over by the time I arrived, and, sure enough, it was.  While the rain is certainly an unpleasant experience for the cat, it is at least a welcome opportunity for him to lick some severely needed water off his fur.

I could hear Smoke as soon as I exited my truck.  For a small boy, he had a lot of loud fussing to do.  He wanted down, and he wanted down now.  He followed above me watching me and fussing as I walked around the tree.  He wasn't just pleading for help, he was mad and impatient.  It was pretty clear that he would be a cooperative rescue, and, indeed, he was.

Smoke was 30 feet high, and he was very mobile in the tree, walking far out to the end of one branch then moving over to another branch and then another.  The tree was very large and tall, but the large trunk was surrounded over its entire length by dense sprouting limbs and vines.  It would be difficult to push my way through this dense foliage.

After setting my climbing line, I began climbing.  As Smoke noticed that I was getting close, he began coming down toward me.  He continued to fuss with more excitement and urgency as I got closer.  Once I was level with him, I reached out to him to give him a reassuring pat on the head.  I could have easily picked him up and put him in my lap, but instead I opened the carrier, placed it in front of him, and without hesitation he walked straight on inside.  No food was needed to entice this guy inside.  I closed the door and brought him down.  I wanted him in the carrier to help protect him from all the poking limbs that we were sure to encounter on the trip down.

Once down on the ground, I handed him off to Victor.  Smoke was released inside and Victor picked him up and held him.  Smoke settled into his arms with relief and started purring.

Mission accomplished.  Now all he needed was some food, water, and a comfortable place to sleep.

While I did have my video camera with me and I even remembered to turn it on, the video is useless because the dense foliage blocked the view.  I have some great close-ups of a bunch of leaves, but not one single frame of Smoke.  Thwarted again.

Two days after the rescue, Victor sent me this picture of Smoke after fully recovering from his adventure.  I also learned that, since I rescued him, Smoke has been up a tree not only once, but twice.  He had also climbed trees a few times before I rescued him.  Victor is trying to keep him inside more, but this little boy likes to climb, and I suspect that I will be seeing him again.  Maybe soon.