Ben's Second Rescue

Pat and Noel were sitting in their backyard when they heard a familiar meow.  They looked around and discovered their cat, Ben, about 40 feet high in one of their pine trees.  Noel tried to reach Ben with his ladder, but he could not quite get high enough, and Ben refused to do anything to make it easier.

Ben got stuck in one of these trees once before just two months ago, and Pat called me to see if I could rescue him.  I was happy to try, but Ben is not the most sociable of cats, and he would not let me get close to him.  He eventually fell from the extreme end of a branch, but survived the fall just fine.  I did not want a repeat of that rescue, so I was determined this time to make friends with him and bring him down gently.

Ben is not a people-loving cat.  While he loves Pat and Noel, he has little tolerance for any strangers.  I knew I would have my work cut out for me, so as I drove over there, I thought about how I would approach him.  To avoid scaring him at the beginning when installing my climbing line above him, I planned to install it far below him and gradually work up to him.  When I arrived, however, I saw that there were no branches below him that would be suitable for climbing, so I was forced to set the line above him.  Fortunately, this time, he was not disturbed by the commotion I created close above him, and that gave me reason to feel a bit more optimistic about his rescue.

I began climbing up to him slowly to avoid scaring him.  I stopped frequently to talk to him and give him time to adapt.  When I was about 10 feet below him, I could hear him giving me a warning growl.  I stopped and rested there for several minutes and talked to him calmly some more.  After he settled down, I gently climbed up a little bit more.  Again he gave me a warning growl, but he was not moving.  Just as before, I stopped and rested there and talked to him calmly.  While I looked at him at times, I mostly looked off in other directions as if I had no interest in him.  After he calmed down again, I climbed up a little higher, and we repeated this process over and over again.  Eventually, I was close enough that I could almost reach him with my hand.  I extended my hand to him to sniff, but he was not interested.

The first time I tried to rescue him, I hardly saw him at all, and I was not sure what he actually looked like.  This time, it was a joy to get a good close look at him and see what a handsome boy he is with all that long hair floof blowing in the wind.

I climbed up a little higher and now I could extend my hand up to him.  This time he sniffed, but he still was not letting me know that he trusted me.  I wanted to touch him, but I knew he was not ready for that, so I waited some more.  He was still resting on his belly and not making any moves to suggest that I was getting too close, but when I went up just a few more inches, I crossed that invisible threshold.  He looked up to find an escape path higher in the tree.  Fortunately, however, he did not go higher.  Instead, he looked behind and began slowly walking out on his branch.  There was nothing I could do to stop him.  I watched has he walked all the way out to the end of the branch and perched there with his back to me.

I climbed up to where I could stand on his branch and secured myself there.  I pulled up my net and extended the handle to its full length.  I reached the net as far as I could to position it beyond him to encourage him to come back toward me.  My plan was not working.  He continued to slowly work his way farther away from me while I tried to stop him or even pull him back.  He slipped just beyond my reach, and I was unable to hold the net out that far any longer.  I rested for a few minutes while I pondered my options.

I could not see Ben very well, so I'm not sure what happened.  He was out at the extreme end of the branch and must surely have been standing on very thin limbs.  I saw him slip downward and heard the thud as he hit the ground.  He began to run toward the backdoor of the house, but it was closed.  He turned around and ran toward the garage instead.

He had fallen again, just like the last time in spite of my determination to bring him down gently.  He appeared to be okay, but you can't be sure until later.  As I was packing up my gear to leave, Noel told me that he let Ben inside the house, and he appeared to be fine except for a small limp.

After I left, Ben gobbled down a can of food and went to sleep in his favorite chair where he remained for the rest of the night.  The next day, Pat told me that Ben is still limping but able to put some weight on that leg.  Otherwise, he is functioning normally, even jumping onto her lap.  Since he is extremely difficult to get into a carrier, they will just watch him day by day, stay in contact with their vet and take him in if it appears necessary.  He is in good hands, and I know they will do whatever is necessary for him.  I hope Ben will be all right, and I hope he stays out of trees.