Kiki's Second Rescue

As soon as I finished rescuing Minew in Folsom, I drove straight from there to Walker to rescue Kiki, a cat I have rescued once before. Just like Kiki's first rescue when tropical storm Barry was approaching, the weather added a sense of urgency to this rescue as well. A severe cold front was expected to pass through the area overnight and bring rain and freezing temperatures. To make matters worse, by the time I arrived, there would be only one and a half hours of daylight left, and we didn't know exactly where Kiki was. Lauren could hear him crying from somewhere in the woods behind her house, but did not know which tree he might be in. It is often very difficult to see a cat in a tree even when you know which tree to examine, but finding one in the woods is far more difficult.

I arrived there before Lauren and began calling and looking for Kiki. I really needed Kiki to respond to me so I could at least narrow down the search area in this large expanse of woods, but Kiki remained perfectly silent. The mosquitoes in the woods were swarming me, so I went back out to get some repellent and a hat. I went back into the woods looking and calling for Kiki, but, again, had no luck. Fortunately, Lauren arrived at that time, so I was hoping Kiki would respond to her voice. She called for him, but she, too, got no response. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if he had not already come down and gone home, but I went back into the woods to look for him. You have to be very lucky to find a cat in a tree in the woods using eyesight alone, but I had to give it a good try. So, I stepped back into the woods and walked around searching each tree. In less than a minute, I got lucky.

I spotted a mass about 45 feet high near the end of some limbs that could be a cat. Or maybe a raccoon. Or maybe a nest. It wasn't moving or making any noise, but I thought I could make out some cat ears at one end of that silhouette. I went closer for a better look and noticed a slight movement. Kiki is a large, brown tabby that could appear very similar to a raccoon in this situation, so I wanted to see more clues to be positive before wasting my time trying to rescue a raccoon that does not want it. I moved closer, and the mass moved slightly making it easier for me to verify that this was, indeed, Kiki. I felt very lucky to have found him so quickly.

I went back to the truck to get all the gear I would need and returned to install my rope. The mosquitoes made every second in the woods very miserable. While I have been in swarms of mosquitoes that were much worse than this, this one still ranks in my top-ten. I installed my rope as quickly as I could and began to climb up to Kiki while hoping the mosquitoes would not follow me up there. They did.

At his first rescue, Kiki was friendly and cooperative, and I was certainly hoping for the same result today. After all, I wanted to keep my visit with the mosquitoes as short as possible. Kiki, however, showed no sense of urgency or even desire to end his time in the tree. I think he was afraid of me this time and was content to keep a safe distance between us. The limb he was on was not very long, but it was small enough that it could not support my weight well enough for me to go out very far. I supported some of my weight with an additional rope tied to a limb above us, but that limb was also small and inadequate. With my feet pushing against the trunk of the tree, I stretched out horizontally along Kiki's limb to reach as close to him as possible, but I was still four feet away from him. I really needed for him to come to me, and, so far, he was not interested in doing that.

I opened a can of food and placed it at the end of an extendable pole and used the pole to place the food in front of him. He had only mild and fleeting interest in the food, but at least it got him to move around a little bit. I stretched out as far as I possibly could to see if I could get him to sniff my hand, but he would not come close enough to do that. I did not prepare my rescue pole or long-handle net, because I expected Kiki to be friendly and easy. I did not want to climb back down, retrieve that gear and climb back up. I thought Kiki would eventually warm up to me in time, so I stayed there working to coax him to me.

I did not expect that 35 minutes would pass before he would finally come to me, but that is exactly how long it took from the time I first stepped on his limb. He teased me with three approaches to sniff my hand and even let me pet him, but he went back out the limb again each time and waited. It was on his fourth approach that he came all the way to me and let me pet him more fully. I apologized for betraying his trust, but I bagged him right away, because I did not want to spend any more time up there with the mosquitoes.

I brought him down to the ground and then carried him to Lauren who was waiting just outside the woods. She took him inside and released him while I went back into the gauntlet of buzzing mosquito spears to pack up my gear. The sun was ready to set, and on my way home, I ran into a light rain which signaled the approach of the nearing cold front. I am so very glad I was able to get both Minew and Kiki down before that front arrived, but I was very tired after spending so much time straining in awkward and painful positions to reach Kiki. Add in the uncountable number of mosquito bites on my face, neck, body and hands, and I was ready to go home, get cleaned up and get in a comfortable bed. Sometimes, these rescues are not easy or pleasant, but my suffering is soon forgotten while the joy of  preventing the suffering of the kitties in a freezing rain and the suffering of the kitty owners while that happens lasts a lifetime and makes it, oh, so worth it.

But, I have to admit, I hope the phone does not ring again anytime real soon.