Fitzgerald, or "Fitz," as he is usually called, is a sweet black and white cat that mysteriously disappeared one night.  His owner, Della, looked all over for him but could not find him.  Fitz and Della are very close, and Della was getting more and more distressed as each hour passed without any sign of him.  On the third night of Fitz's disappearance, Della decided to walk down the street calling for him while it was fairly late and relatively quiet.  When she was a fair distance down the street, to her amazement and delight, she heard Fitz respond to her in a frantic voice.  When he heard her voice, he began crying desperately for her.  It took a few minutes for Della to find him in the darkness, but there he was, 15 feet high in a tree at the edge of the street.

While Della was thrilled to have found him, she was at a loss to figure out how to get him down.  She tried to coax him down, but little Fitz just didn't know how.  Della loves her Fitz, and she is a determined woman, so she would not rest until she found a way to get him down.  She called the fire department and, despite their protests, she actually persuaded them into coming out to help even though it is normally not their policy to do so.  Since Fitz was only 15 feet high, they used a ladder and got very close to him.  While Fitz is very sweet and affectionate with Della, he is rather fearful of anyone else, so, not surprisingly, he climbed a little higher.  They were unable to reach him at that point and left.

Della did not give up.  She called every tree care company she could find, but could not find one that had any interest in helping her.  It was after midnight when a friend of hers found out about me by doing an internet web search.  Della was not going to let the late hour deter her, so she called me.  Unfortunately for Della, my phone was off, and I did not get her message until the next morning.  I contacted her right away and we made plans to rescue Fitz.

When I arrived at the site, I met Della and found Fitz securely perched in a crater in the top of the trunk where the top of the tree had broken off.  He was about 20 feet high and would be fairly easy to reach, but because of his fear of strangers, I knew he was likely to either climb higher or jump.  There was a large and long branch that rose above him, and I was worried that he would climb there making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for me to reach him.  I picked a tie-in point part of the way up that branch on the opposite side of the tree from Fitz.  My hope was that my presence there would prevent him from using that branch for an escape, and, fortunately, he did indeed choose an alternate route.  He walked out a long and fairly horizontal branch that extended far over the street, and, while this was a more manageable location, he was still so far out that I would not be able to reach him.

I tried to lure him back to me with food.  While he licked his lips and thought about it, he would not touch it.  I pulled up the rescue pole and net and planned to snare him, but first I used the pole behind him to gently prod him to walk closer to me.  That worked very well, and he walked just out of the reach of my outstretched hand.  He sniffed my hand and seemed comfortable with it, so I was beginning to think I could easily make friends with him. This was a good sign, and I was starting to feel good about getting Fitz down easily.  But, for reasons only Fitz knows, he suddenly changed his mind about being so close to me and turned around to go back out to the end of the branch.

As he walked back out the branch away from me, I tried to place the pole in front of him both to discourage him from going any farther and to place the noose around him if he continued outward.  This action caused Fitz to see me more as enemy than friend, and I knew I would never be able to prod him back to me again.  I had no choice now but to snare him.  After a couple of failed attempts, I caught him as he began to walk out to the extreme end of the branch.  Unfortunately, I could not tighten the noose quickly enough, and as he continued to walk, I ended up with the noose around his waist instead of his chest.

I pulled him backward along the branch toward me, so that he could keep his weight on his feet instead of the noose.  When he was close to me, I gently lifted him so that I could push him down into the net as quickly as possible.  He was very terrified and struggling to free himself, and he grabbed the net with his claws making it impossible for me to force him into it.  I tried several times to get him in the net before I decided that it would be best to give up on the net and just lower him as much as possible and release him into the blanket being held by the people on the ground below.  It would not be a long fall for Fitz, and it was the fastest way to get him out of the noose.  I released the noose and Fitz fell softly into the blanket near the edge.  He immediately jumped to the ground and ran full speed toward his house.

That was not the way I wanted this rescue to go, and I felt badly that Fitz had been so traumatized.  But he was down now, and he was fine.  The fall to the blanket was probably no more than 10 feet, and he handled that well.  I just hated that I had to snare him with the noose around his waist.  I could not let him go and try again, because he was headed out to the extreme end of the branch where I would not be able to reach him.  Regardless, Della was very happy to have him down and very grateful to me for getting him there.

I packed up and left, and on the way home, Della sent me this picture of her and Fitz.  He had gone straight home, was doing fine and acting as if nothing had happened.  A little while later, she sent me this picture of him sleeping.  When I feel badly about the way the rescue unfolded, it heals my heart to see pictures like this and know that it still had a happy ending.  Fitz and Della are back together again and loving each other again as if nothing ever happened.  It's hard to feel bad about an ending like that.