Betty White

With a name like Betty White, you would expect the cat to be all white.  You would also expect it to be female, but Betty White is an all-white, very large, male cat.  He got his name when Ron and Sharon first discovered this feral cat and thought it was a girl.  They trapped him and had him neutered and vaccinated and learned, of course, that he was a male, but by that time the name had stuck.  They have continued to feed him and care for him for a few years, and when he didn't show up for his morning feeding, Ron began to look for him and found him 25 feet high in a small pecan tree in the backyard.

Ron told me that Betty White is highly likely to stay away from me.  He doesn't even allow Ron to get close much of the time, even after a few years of daily feeding.  When I arrived, I found Betty White resting quietly in the crotch of a branch and looking very sleepy.  He was exposed to the full sun on a warm day, and the pecan tree, always the last to leaf in Spring, was just beginning to bud and offered no shade.  He had probably been in the tree only one night, but he was already pretty exhausted.

With feral cats, it's best to find a way for them to rescue themselves.  I didn't see anyway to use a ramp, and I ruled out the elevator when Ron told me how the cat hates carriers.  My best hope lay in scaring him down when I shoot the weighted bag in the tree above him.  I shot the bag three times above him and he didn't react to it very much.  He noticed it, and he did get nervous enough eventually to go down to the next lower branch, but he walked out about eight feet and perched there.

After talking about it with Ron, I thought it would be best to set a trap for him on his branch.  The branch rose fairly steeply at the trunk, but it looked manageable.  But things always look different in the tree compared to the ground.  Once I put the trap there, it was clear to me that this would not work.  With Plans A, B, C and D now ruled out, the only thing to do was go to Plan E, the rescue pole.

I secured myself in the best position I could manage and readied the pole and the net to which I would transfer him.  He handled the approach of the noose and my efforts to get it into position under his large, front legs just fine.  He was pretty docile and not upset.  When I tightened the noose and began to pull him, however, his wildness erupted.

He struggled and fought me like the wild cat that he is.  He grabbed every limb in reach and made it very difficult for me to pull his very heavy body loose.  With great effort, I placed him over the net and held him with one hand while I readied the net with the other hand.  I tried to stuff him into the net, but he stymied my every move.  He grabbed the net with his claws, and I could not get him to let go.  I attempted several times to get him into the net, but he would not go.  Finding myself too weak and tired to hold this heavy boy much longer, I decided to just lower him as far as I could and then release him from the noose and let him fall to a safe place.  From the point where I released him, he was only 10 feet from the ground, and I let him fall onto a mat that Ron had suspended between two fence rails.  I knew the mat would collapse to the ground when he landed on it, but it would also help slow his fall.  He landed just where I wanted and fell safely to the ground.  He ran off about 20 feet and stopped to see if anyone was chasing him.  Satisfied that he was safe, he walked around to his usual hideout where food and water were already waiting.

Feral cat rescues are rarely pleasant, and I intentionally did not use my video camera for this rescue, because I knew I would not want to post it.  The picture above is of some other white cat, not Betty White.  Sometimes these rescues are not pretty, and they don't always leave one feeling warm and fuzzy inside.  But this boy deserved a rescue however it needed to be done, and I am still very glad I did it and ended his suffering in the tree.