It is always a challenge for the children of a blended family to learn to get along. Such was the case when Mandy introduced her dogs to Tony's cat, Penelope. The dogs liked Penelope very much -- a little too much -- but the feelings were not mutual. The backyard, which formerly was Penelope's undisputed domain, was now suddenly going to the dogs, and Penelope was increasingly finding it necessary to hide under the shed. This time, however, they caught her by surprise, and she had to climb up the tree to escape their enthusiasm.

Tony was there when his mama cat gave birth to Penelope and two other kittens. Tony found good homes for the other two kittens and kept Penelope and the mama for himself. Penelope has been with Tony for five years now, and their bond has grown very deep, so when Penelope became stuck in the tree, Tony did everything he could to get her down. Despite his determination and efforts, however, nothing was working. The thirty feet of vertical distance between them was just as formidable as the width of the ocean, and with each failed attempt, Penelope's time in the severe heat of the July days was taking a toll.

It was after Penelope's third night in the tree that Mandy found me by searching the internet for help. It was mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, when she called, and I did not want Penelope to suffer any longer, so I rushed over there as quickly as I could. When I arrived, Mandy led me to the back part of the backyard, and there I saw Penelope resting on a limb almost 30 feet high in an oak tree. She did not respond to us and looked almost lifeless there. So much so, in fact, that Mandy was worried that she had died. I tried to reassure her that Penelope was just exhausted, but I could see that Mandy was not convinced. It wasn't until I shot my weighted bag into the tree above Penelope and stirred her up that Mandy felt relieved. The activity of installing my rope in the tree frightened and energized Penelope a bit, but by the time I was ready to climb the tree, she had settled down.

Mandy and Tony had told me that Penelope was a super friendly cat, and I always love to hear that. I was hoping for a cooperative cat and easy rescue, and it seemed like I had the ingredients for one this time. As I climbed up to her on the opposite side of the trunk, I felt optimistic, and when I reached level with her and saw her reaction to me, I knew she would indeed live up to her friendly reputation. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff it a few seconds, and then gently stroked her cheeks. She was relieved to see that I was friendly and turned and pressed her head into my hand for a full rub. She came closer to me and stepped on the limb immediately in front of me where we continued our greetings and firmed up our new friendship. Yes, Penelope is a sweet, friendly kitty, and I was struck by her blue eyes and unusual markings. From a distance she appeared to be a brown tabby but there was a small touch of orange here and there. There weren't enough tortie touches to call her a torby, but she seemed like something more than a brown tabby too.

It was clear very early that Penelope would be comfortable getting in my lap, and, indeed, she voluntarily stepped down onto my lap fairly quickly. I had not planned to bring her down on my lap, but this seemed to be an appropriate time for it. Penelope was relaxed and comfortable, the descent was reasonably unobstructed, and she was in her own territory, so I saw no reason not to do it. So I pulled her closer to my body and held her there while I began to descend. We went down only a foot when she decided to step onto the lower limb that was now level with us. She explored that limb a minute and then came back to my lap. Again we began to descend, and she remained relaxed as we eased our way down. Once we got close to the ground, she began to squirm out of my grip, and I knew she was thinking about jumping down to the ground. Tony came close to get her, but she jumped down just out of his reach and walked straight to the nearby shed and crawled under it.

It was not until now that I learned that she had been hiding under the shed previously to get away from the dogs, and Tony and Mandy had had difficulty getting her out from under there. Now, I regretted bringing her down in my lap. If I had brought her down in a carrier or a bag, they could have taken her inside with no difficulty. Now, however, she is out of the tree but still out of reach.

I opened a can of food, dumped it into a container and put it on the end of my extendable pole. I gave it to Tony and told him how to use it to lure Penelope out. He reached the food under the shed close to Penelope, and she sniffed it. He slowly pulled the food back, and Penelope followed. It took less than a minute before Penelope was within reach, and Tony picked her up and took her inside. Mandy followed with the food. Once inside, Penelope finished the food and was clearly glad to be home.

As I packed up, Tony came back outside with a bottle of water for me and lots of gratitude for what I had done. I often get hugs from women after rescuing their cat, but I think this is the first time I had a guy hug me. That kind of gratitude is what makes this so rewarding for me, so I was very happy to get it, and I love knowing that Penelope means so much to him.