Bad Stuff

A hot, summer day.  A large, spreading tree.  A feral kitten stuck in the tree.  The kitten's name is Bad Stuff. What could go wrong?

Bad Stuff is an eight-week old black and white kitten who earned his name by having a special talent for finding and making trouble.  On this day, he followed his mother up into a tree along with his brother.  When mother and brother went down, Bad Stuff tried to follow but could not figure out how to do it.  Bad Stuff was stuck, and the next morning Ashley called me to see if I could get him down.

When I arrived, I found Bad Stuff resting comfortably about 35 feet high in a union of large stems.  From the way he was described to me, there was no reason to expect him to be cooperative or even let me get close to him.  I wanted to try to get above him to keep him from going any higher in the tree, so I set my rope above him, climbed up to him and continued to climb above him to cut off any upward escape route.  I was surprised to see that he had little reaction at first to my presence so close to him, and I now regret that I did not prepare for that and scruff him into a bag right then.  While he seemed calm for a moment, before I had time to prepare to scruff him, he got nervous and jumped away from me and walked out to the end of a long branch on the opposite side of the tree.

I worked my way to the opposite side of the tree and rested my feet on his branch.  The branch was not very large, so my weight and movement shook the branch and made him nervous.  I dropped down to the the next lower branch and went out as far as I could, but he was still far away from me.  The only thing I knew to do was to pull up my net, add an extension pole to it, and see if I could reach him with that.

I could just barely reach him with the net, but it is very difficult to hold the net horizontally that far.  I am not a strong person, so I was straining and had to rest frequently.  I tried to get him to fall into the net, first by using the net itself to force him to fall and then by shaking his branch while holding the net under him.  It almost worked.  He lost his footing, but still managed to hang on and recover.  After those attempts, I noticed that he was so afraid of the net, that he started walking back toward me to get away from it.  I kept prodding him with the net, and he eventually walked all the way up to me.  I was prepared to scruff him into a bag, so when he got within reach, I scruffed him and pulled the bag over him.

At this point I made a big mistake.  I was so relieved to have him in the bag, that I was celebrating before I finished securing him.  I announced to Ashley below that I had him in the bag, while Bad Stuff, from deep inside the bag, saw a small opening of daylight and jumped for it.  I made the mistake of underestimating the quickness and power of a kitten just because he is so small.  He shot out of the bag like a bullet, got back on his branch and walked over to the opposite side of the tree.  Fortunately, he went down the tree instead of up.  He came to rest on a large dead stub, the lowest branch on the tree 12 feet from the ground.

I worked my way back to the opposite side of the tree and came down toward Bad Stuff.  He was watching.  While I had my attention focused on attaching my lanyard to a branch to pull me closer to him, Bad Stuff boldly jumped to the ground.  I did not see him jump or land, but as I turned my head, I saw him running across the front of the house.  He appeared to be just fine.

The next morning, Ashley reported that Bad Stuff was doing well.  He even wanted her to pet him, and that is remarkable.  She is taking care of him, and we expect he will be fine and ready to continue building on the reputation for which he was named.