It was just after dark on a gloomy, drizzly day when Seth called to see if I could get his cat out of a tree. His cat, Alley, is a nine-month old Siamese mix, and he found her earlier that afternoon in a tree and could not get her down. He wasn't sure exactly how long she had been stuck there, but it was no more than half a day. Alley was in familiar territory and knew her way home if she came down on her own, so this was not sounding particularly urgent. Normally, I would have gone there the next morning, but the weather forecast was for 100 percent chance of rain starting later in the night and continuing throughout the next day. If I did not rescue Alley tonight, then I would likely be unable to rescue her until after her second night in the tree.

I had not done a complete nighttime rescue before, though I was prepared for it. I have ended rescues after dark, but never started one in the dark. When given a choice, I would rather start the rescue in daylight, because it is important that I clearly see where I am attaching my rope in the tree. After all, my life depends on it. But with the very strong flashlights that I have, I should be able to see well enough to safely install my rope. However, if the cat is skittish and forces me to chase it around the tree, then I would feel more comfortable doing so in daylight, since I would not have those flashlights up in the tree with me at that time. Seth told me that Alley is very friendly, so I felt better about the likelihood of an easy rescue and told him that I would be there as soon as I could.

When I arrived at the site, Seth led me to the tree, and I was a bit disappointed in what I saw. There were three large trees in a row spaced very closely together, and Alley was in the middle one. With limited access due to a building on one side, a fence and overgrown field on the other and large trees guarding the front and the back, I struggled to find a good place to install my rope. I saw only one good place and began to install my rope there. I ran into multiple difficulties doing so and spent much too much time before eventually succeeding. Alley was about 25 feet high and crying constantly and impatiently for us to hurry up below.

Once I began to climb, the rescue went very quickly. Alley watched me climb up to her, and she appeared happy to see me. I petted her right away, and she appeared very comfortable. We spent no more than a minute getting acquainted when I noticed that she seemed to appear a little concerned. I don't know what was going on in her mind at that moment, but she went to the opposite side of the stem from me and got into a vertical position ready to climb higher. I did not waste any time to see if she intended to climb or not. I grabbed her by the scruff of the neck, lifted her off the stem and placed her gently in my lap. I did not have my cat bag prepared on my arm yet, so I held her gently there in my lap and calmed her down to make sure she did not want to get away from me. Fortunately, she settled in and relaxed again. I need two hands to prepare my cat bag, and I didn't want to give Alley too much time without at least one hand to hold her, so I reached for my carrier instead. I lifted the carrier up to her, opened the door and encouraged her to go inside. She looked in the carrier and placed her front paws inside but then paused. I did not want to take any more chances with her, so I lifted her rear end and gently pushed her inside and closed the door without the slightest complaint from Alley.

I brought her down and handed her to Seth who took her inside the house and released her. Seth and his wife, Amanda, both welcomed Alley back home and tended to her. Later that night, they sent this picture of her to me to reassure me that all was well. Later that night, the rain began to fall, and it continued to fall all during the following day just as predicted. But thankfully, Alley was safe inside enjoying a dry, comfy bed.