When Kayla called me to see if I could rescue her sweet, one-year old cat, Pumpkin, from the pine tree in her back yard, it sounded like a routine rescue. I know better than to predict how long a rescue will take, but I thought this one would be fairly quick. But when I arrived at the site and saw the tree and learned more about Pumpkin's disposition, I knew I was in for a long one.

The tree was a tall pine tree surrounded by a dense, impenetrable thicket of privet, vines, thorns, bushes and small trees. To install my rope in the tree, I needed to be able to get fairly close to the trunk, but that did not appear to be possible here. To make matters worse, the more I learned about Pumpkin from Kayla, the more clear it became that Pumpkin was not going to be the least bit cooperative. Yep, I was in a for long one.

I will spare you all the details about the difficulties, poor decisions, bad luck and creativity I employed to install my rope in the tree while the rain began to fall, but I eventually succeeded. I'm just not going to say how long it took me to do it. In the end, however, I had my rope installed up very high in the tree because I was expecting Pumpkin to climb higher as I approached. I was prepared to chase her all the way to the top.

Many cats get frightened by the rope installation process, because it creates a little commotion in the tree around them. Pumpkin, however, was the most skittish I had ever seen. I was very pleased with how little commotion I created when I first shot my line into the tree well above her, but even that little bit scared her into climbing a little higher. Fortunately and surprisingly, she did not climb any higher throughout the rest of the lengthy rope installation. When I first arrived, she was out near the end of a low limb about 15 feet high. Now that I was ready to climb, she was only 20 feet high and, again, out near the end of the limb.

I was feeling a little encouraged by her position, because she was at the end of a relatively short limb and there was a good chance I could climb up to her without her climbing any higher in the tree. Indeed, she stayed in place, and when I climbed up to her, I was blocking her escape path up the tree. That was just what I wanted, so now I could see if there was any possibility of making friends with her. I walked out the limb about 10 feet toward her, and she was still another 10 feet away from me.

I could tell by the expression on her face that she did not like my being there one bit. She was trapped and felt it. I poured on my charm and gave her time to warm up to me, but I could not make any progress with her. I knew that she normally comes running when she hears a can of food being opened, so I pulled out a can and opened it hoping for a miracle. But no miracle occurred. She had no response to that at all. My last hope was to hold the food on the end of a long pole and position it closer to her, but that failed miserably. Even before I could get it anywhere near her, she reacted by going even farther out the limb. That clearly scared her, so my only choice now was to try to remotely pluck her from the end of the limb.

I hauled up my rescue pole and net and got them ready. I always practice the maneuver a bit before trying it to make sure I am ready, so after that, I began to extend the noose of the rescue pole toward her. Just like with the food coming toward her, she was terrified at the mere sight of it, and before I could get it within six feet of her, she jumped down to the next lower branch. Generally, cats are not afraid of the rescue pole near them, but they are terrified of the net approaching them. Pumpkin, however, was so afraid of the rescue pole that I could not imagine how much worse she would react to the sight of the net.

She had jumped down to a branch that was much longer, and she walked all the way out to the end of it. I went down to her branch and walked out toward her, but she was still well out of my reach now. However, she was now less than 20 feet from the ground, and she was positioned just beyond the edge of the dense thicket that surrounded the tree trunk. The simplest solution now was just to shake Pumpkin out of the tree while Kayla and another person held a blanket between them to catch her when she fell.

Kayla got a blanket and a friend to help her, and they got into position below. I gave them some instructions about how to do it and what to expect. When they were ready, I jumped up and down on the limb until Pumpkin fell. But Pumpkin used her super-cat powers to leap from the shaking limb out into the air off to the side far away from the waiting blanket. I did not think it possible to fly out as far as she did, but down she fell and landed on the ground on her feet. Without missing a step, she ran off behind the shed.

Pumpkin appeared to be just fine, but she was hiding, and it would be a while before she would feel like emerging. I'm sure she was especially eager to see me leave first. So I came down, packed up and left as quickly as I could. I told Kayla to let me know when Pumpkin came out of hiding.

About two hours later, Kayla told me that Pumpkin was home, safe and sound. She sent me these pictures of her later, and I was very pleased and happy to see that all was well in the Pumpkin household again.