If I don't have a cat to rescue at least once per week, I start getting withdrawal symptoms.  My cat rescue schedule is wildly random, and slumps are inevitable.  This time, my slump was just extending past the three-week mark, when it finally ended with a call from Sarah.  Sarah's cat, Binx, was stuck in a tree in the next-door neighbor's back yard, and she called to see if I could help her even though she was located in Mandeville, an 80-minute drive from me.  Well, of course, I can help, and I will be there just as quickly as I can.

Binx is a two year old, black and white boy, and he had been stuck in the neighbor's tree only one night.  When I arrived, I found him just under 30 feet high in a large pine tree.  Sarah had already told me that Binx is likely to run from a stranger when he gets too close, so I was not expecting him to let me get very close either.  Consequently, I prepared the net and rescue pole for use while hoping I would not need them.

I set my rope far above Binx, and that activity concerned him and made him nervous.  Fortunately, however, he did not go higher or farther out his branch, and, after a few minutes, he seemed to settle down.

I climbed up to him very slowly, pausing along the way to give him time to adjust to me.  At times he seemed nervous, and at other times he seemed fine.  One minute he would let out a slight distress call, while the next minute he would rub his head on the branch.  He was having trouble deciding if I was good news or bad news, so I made sure not to do anything that would give him any reason to decide the latter.

When I got close enough to do so, I reached out my hand for him to sniff.  I don't know what it is about that hand sniff, but it seems to settle most cats down and allow them to view me in a non-threatening way.  It serves simply as a friendly introduction, and, fortunately, Binx seemed satisfied with that introduction and relaxed a bit.  I climbed a little higher and now Binx not only let me touch him, he pushed his head into my hand and encouraged me to pet him all over.  He was so sweet, affectionate and needy, that is was hard to imagine him running away from anyone.  In fact, several times he tried to step down into my lap.  I would have loved to bring him down in my lap, but there were several limbs we would have to penetrate on the way down, and I would need both hands to help push them out of the way.  It just would not have been safe to have him in my lap for that.

I thought it would be easy to get him in a carrier, so I presented it to him.  He seemed so eager to go down, that I thought he would walk inside the carrier even without any food inside.  He looked inside with some curiosity, but he did not move one foot inside.  So, I opened a can of food and presented that to him.  He was not particularly interested in that either.  Just the same, I put the food in the back of the carrier and held it up to him again.  He showed little interest in it, and it quickly became clear to me that he simply was not going to go inside.

I had really wanted to get him in the carrier, because it would have protected him from the poking limbs that we would have to penetrate on the way down.  Since Binx ruled that option out, I put the carrier away and pulled out my cat bag.  Once I was ready, Binx turned around to a better position, as if he knew exactly where I wanted him.  I petted him, felt his scruff, and gently picked him up and pulled the bag over him.  He complained only once and then patiently settled down. I brought him down being careful to get him through the gauntlet of poking limbs without too much discomfort and handed him to Sarah.  Sarah cradled him in her arms very lovingly and carried him inside to release him.

While I was there, I learned more about Binx and how he came to be with Sarah.  Sarah found him as a tiny kitten behind a Target store, and his face was covered with food.  He looks pretty pitiful in this picture from that day, but just two weeks later, look at how good and happy he looks with in new home with Sarah.  And two years later, he continues to look good and happy.

It means a lot to me to be able to see the relief, joy, gratitude and love people feel for their cat when they get it back down into their arms.  I saw a lot of that this time, and that is what makes my work feel so rewarding.  To me, getting paid with money after a rescue would almost ruin that feeling and reward.  Not only have I brought relief to the cat, I have brought it to the owners as well.  To see how important and meaningful this is, one need only to look at the deep bond people have with their cat.  To bring the cat safely down is to restore that bond that they feared they might lose.  Yes, this is important.

Due to some technical problems, I have very little useful video of this rescue.  The very short excerpts below, however, should be enough to show just how sweet Binx was.