It was a hot, sunny mid-afternoon in Luling, so it came as a relief when Caysa led me down a path through the shade and woods just beyond her backyard. Her cat, Kiki, had been stuck in a tree in these woods for three days and nights already, and as we approached the tree, Caysa called out to Kiki who responded. If Kiki had not moved, I would not have seen her, but I got a brief glimpse of her as she paced on a limb about 50 feet high. Caysa told me that the limb she was currently on was the lowest she has been able to come down, but she had been much higher in the tree (circled in red) which is blocked from view in this picture by the foreground limb of a different tree.

The tree was a sweet gum with two equal-size trunks, and as expected for most trees in the woods down here, it was covered with vines. The limb that Kiki was on was just about the only one I could use to install my rope, but the trunk extended far above that, and I was not sure how much of that I could safely climb. I would need Kiki either to stay on that limb or to come down to me at least part of the way to make this rescue possible.

Kiki is only nine-months-old, and they adopted her when a friend discovered a litter of kittens next to a busy road. The friend felt compelled to take all the kittens and try to find a home for each of them, and that is when Caysa decided to adopt Kiki.  Kiki stays inside all the time, but lately has been getting a taste of the wild outdoors in very small, controlled doses. But something went wrong, and Kiki ran into the woods where she was now stuck in this tree.

The rope installation process went pretty well, but still the commotion I created in the tree was too much for Kiki. We did not see where she went, but it was clear she was not on the same limb anymore. Still, wherever she was, I hoped I could earn her trust and get her to come to me. I began to climb up to her, but as I did so, I realized I had not heard her cry in a while. I climbed all the way to the top of my rope on that limb at 50 feet, and I still did not hear her or see her. I pulled myself up on top of the limb and looked around. I could not see her on any of the few but long limbs, and I could not see her above me on the trunk at least 20 feet above me. The trunk was covered with vines and foliage, so it's possible that she was there but just not visible. She wasn't making a sound or a movement, and I didn't know where she could be.

Now I was wondering if she fell out of the tree unnoticed while I was installing my rope or climbing up to her. I asked Caysa to look around on the ground and to go back to the house to make sure she was not there. Caysa did so and reported seeing no sign of her. If Kiki fell, it is possible that she could be hiding somewhere until she feels safe to emerge and go home, so I still was not sure she was even in the tree. I looked and called, and Caysa looked and called too, but we never found a single sign of her.

This was getting mysterious, but I thought it most likely that she was up high at the tip top of the tree where I could not see her. If so, it was clear that she was not going to come down to me, and I did not feel safe climbing much higher on that trunk. I pondered cutting the top of the tree to force Kiki down and discussed that with Caysa. We could also wait till morning and hope to verify that Kiki is indeed in the tree and maybe find her more receptive to me. There are many risks associated with cutting the top of the tree, and I discussed them all with Caysa. She called her husband to talk it over with him, and we all decided to try again in the morning. So I came down and packed up but left my rope installed in the tree. That not only makes it easier for me in the morning, but it also eliminates the risk of frightening Kiki again with the rope installation.

That night, Caysa told me that she saw Kiki still in the tree, so I was glad to get confirmation of that. The following morning, I went over there as soon as I could to start anew. When I arrived, we saw Kiki in the tree, and I noticed how she responded to Caysa's voice when she talked in an excited, high-pitched manner. Kiki came down farther when hearing that voice and seemed to be more ready for me to rescue her, so I quickly began climbing up to her again.

Unfortunately, just like the day before, Kiki was not comfortable with my approach and climbed up to the tip top of the trunk well before I got close to her. At least this time we knew she was there. I climbed to the top of my rope and hoped to entice Kiki to come down. I could not see her, but I knew she was up there around 20 feet above me. The trunk at this point had few substantial limbs and was dominated by vines as it curved up in a slight, crooked spiral above me.

I was not having any luck eliciting any response from Kiki. I shook the treat bag that normally gets her running, but got no response. I opened a can of food and got the same reaction. I tried putting the food on the end of an extendable pole and reaching up into the foliage hopefully somewhere near her, but that failed when the food got caught in the vines and then fell to the ground. I called Caysa, put her on speakerphone and let her talk to Kiki, but, again, I got no response. Then I remembered how she reacted to Caysa's high-energy voice, so I told her to call her that way.

When Caysa began talking to Kiki with her high-pitched voice, Kiki responded. Kike began slowly finding her way down and now, at last, I could see her. Kiki carefully inched her way down till she was about 10 feet above me. At that point, she was out of my reach, and she seemed to reach an impasse as the trunk was now perfectly vertical and very difficult to negotiate. She had done it a few times before, but as I looked at it now, it was surprising that she ever did so. It would be tough and scary for her to come down that section to the next safe spot, and she stayed there for a long time before deciding that she could not do it. She turned around and headed back up to the top of the tree out of my sight again, and I watched helplessly as my heart and hope sunk. I told Caysa to stop calling Kiki to give them both a break.

I had to go up higher so that I could reach her at that impasse spot, but I was not very comfortable with the tree at that point. Comfortable or not, I slowly and carefully worked my way up with difficulty until I was within reach of that stopping spot, and once there, I told Caysa to start calling Kiki again.

Again, Kiki responded to Caysa's voice and slowly began working her way down again. It looked so awkward and dangerous for her at times, but she handled it all well and was soon back in that same spot where I could now touch her and greet her. She was very comfortable with me now and accepted my petting with complete trust. We were friends now, and she was in reach, so I finally felt like this rescue was going to work out after all. Since I had been shaking her treat bag, I felt obligated to give her a taste. After that, I tried to pull her out of her perch, but I could not see her back legs, and when I lifted her, it felt like her back leg may have been stuck. I put her back down and gave her a moment to move her leg, and when she did so, I lifted her up and out of her perch and pulled the cat bag over her. This little girl was finally safe and ready to go down.

I felt very relieved to be back on the ground again, and I handed the bag to Caysa. She took Kiki inside to release her while I packed my gear. When I finished packing everything, I went inside the house to check on Kiki. She was in the middle of the floor playing while everyone was around her watching. I approached her, and she was happy to see me. She started purring and rubbing her head into my hand. She looked like a perfectly normal and content kitty acting as if nothing ever happened.

After I left, Kiki settled down and took a good, long nap, and Caysa took this picture and sent it to me. After four nights up high in a tree, some comfortable sleep is just what she needs. And Caysa probably needs some rest too. It is hard to keep calling like that for the length of time that Kiki required to come down, but she stuck with it and made the difference in this rescue. If she had not been there and done that, this would have been a very different rescue. Thank you, Caysa.