Sweetie Bell

Sweetie Bell was just six months old when Jacqueline adopted her. Even though Sweetie Bell had spent most of her time outdoors up to that time, Jacqueline intended to keep her inside at her rural home near Covington. Sweetie Bell adapted to indoor life very well, but she still heard the call of the wild once in a while, and she learned how to dash out the door when that split-second of opportunity presented itself. That is how she got outside this time, and it was not long before she found herself stuck 20 feet high in a very large oak tree.

Jacqueline was very concerned about Sweetie Bell and tried everything she could to help her down. Sweetie Bell was very nervous in the tree, and every unusual sound or movement caused her to go a little higher in the tree. So, it seemed that the more Jacqueline did to help, the more it hurt, as Sweetie Bell just went higher and higher. Jacqueline even called the fire department for help, and they actually went out there to see what they could do. But their actions, too, caused Sweetie Bell just to go higher in the tree, and they were unable to reach her. Jacqueline spent long hours each day and night trying to find a way to get Sweetie Bell down, and after two nights of frustration and despair, finally found me by doing a search on the internet.

From the way Jacqueline described Sweetie Bell to me over the phone, I was concerned about this rescue. Sweetie Bell sounded like she was far more sensitive to every little sound and movement than any cat I had rescued before, so I was pretty sure she would do her best to get away from me in the tree. My only hope was that she would be in a tree in which her movement was fairly well limited, so my heart sank a bit when I arrived and saw the very large oak tree with large, long branches reaching up high and steep in every direction. If Sweetie Bell goes out to the end of any of these branches, then this will be an extremely challenging rescue.

But there was some good news as well. Sweetie Bell had managed to find her way back down from her earlier heights and was now at the center of the tree back in her original perch just 20 feet high. Maybe if I was very quiet, slow and careful, I could climb up to her without scaring her higher. I was not optimistic that strategy would be successful, but I had to try.

I installed my rope very high above Sweetie Bell to keep that activity far enough away from her that she would not be spooked by it. I was lucky to get that done with minimal noise, and, so far, Sweetie Bell was staying in place without looking worried. As I climbed up to her, I went very slow and stopped frequently to give her time to see me and also see that I was not threatening her. I let her know that I saw her, but, otherwise, did not look at her very long. Jacqueline helped by talking to her from the ground in a calm and relaxed way. At one point, I could see Sweetie Bell getting nervous and looking up the branch for an escape path. She considered it several times during my ascent, but, fortunately, she did not act on it. Each time she appeared to be thinking about escaping upward, I stopped and backed off to give her time to settle back down.

Eventually, I found myself almost within reach of her, and I felt lucky that I had made it this close to her. It was time to offer her some food, because Jacqueline had told me that Sweetie Bell is very food-motivated and comes running when she hears that can open. Indeed, when I opened the can, Sweetie Bell turned to look, and she focused her attention on the food I was holding up to her. She was still too nervous to eat it, but I think it helped swing her opinion of me from threatening to friendly.

Sweetie Bell turned her back to me and settled into the branch union. I reached my hand out to her and decided to give her a gentle touch on her rump. With my gloved fingers, I scratched her rump and petted her back end. Though startled at first, she relaxed into it and seemed to enjoy it. She even began to rub her face against the branch. Eventually, she turned around to face me and let me touch her head and back. With that, I thought we had firmed up our friendship and the rest of the rescue was all but settled, but I was wrong. Again, she turned her back to me and then jumped up about two feet to the next highest large branch union.

I tried to coax her back down with some food, and while it seemed to get her attention, she still did not move. I don't why she changed her mind, but after a few minutes, she decided to come back down to the original union and let me try to make friends with her again. Again, she let me pet her, and she even stepped closer to me than ever, but, again, she returned to her original perch, turned her back to me and settled back into the union.

I prepared the cat bag on my arm with the intent of stretching as far as I could to reach her scruff and pull her out from there. I was concerned that I needed to take advantage of this opportunity before she changed her mind again. So, I petted her back end again to relax her, and I gently massaged her scruff. I pulled up her scruff and gently pulled her out of her perch. She did not struggle or cling to the tree, and I was able to pull her free and pull the bag over her.

Jacqueline was very relieved, but I think I felt more relief than she did. I felt so fortunate that we were able to avoid a very long and difficult rescue out at the extreme end of one of these long branches. I took Sweetie Bell down and handed her to Jacqueline, and Jacqueline took her inside to release her and feed her. Later that evening, Jacqueline sent this picture of Sweetie Bell to me to show that she was getting settled back in. Hopefully, Sweetie Bell will ignore the call of the wild now and be content to stay inside.