Zephyr is a cool cat. He is friendly, relaxed and docile like a one-year-old orange tabby should be. His buff-colored brother, Chubby, is also a cool cat. Chubby tends to act protective of his litter-mate brother, and when Zephyr climbed up the tree and would not come back down, Chubby offered his support from down below and guarded the area. So, when I arrived to rescue Zephyr, Chubby greeted me and checked me out thoroughly. He inspected all my gear to make sure it met proper specifications, and even made sure I had the required properly-sized space in my gear box for a cat nap. Only when I passed all the inspections did he allow me to proceed, and even then, he followed me and watched every move.

Zephyr was in a bad spot. He climbed a skinny tree that was basically nothing more than a pole with several useless little limbs sticking out of it. There were no limbs on that tree that I trusted to hold my weight. To make matters worse, the tree was fully surrounded by a sea of azalea bushes about six feet high. I did not see a way to get to the trunk of the tree. However, there was a large live oak tree nearby that arched over Zephyr and could be useful, but the more I thought about the troubles I would have installing one or two ropes in that tree with its nagging vines while trying to avoid the Azalea Sea beneath it, the more I thought I did not want to attempt that.

There is a little-used, alternate technique for climbing a tree like Zephyr's that is simple and straight-forward, but it's slow, tedious and strenuous. That is why it is used so little. Still, however, I needed to get in position next to the tree, and when I thought that out loud to myself, Sherry heard me and showed me a place where she had been parting the azaleas and forcing a path to the tree. It was a tight fit, but that solved the problem, so I set about the slow, tedious and strenuous method of climbing the tree.

Every time I climb a tree to rescue a cat, I like to go slowly for the cat's sake, but this time I did not have to force myself to slow down. Zephyr not only had plenty of time to adapt to my approach, he probably got bored with it and could be forgiven for deciding to jump down to bring this to a merciful end. But Zephyr stayed in place and waited patiently for me. I checked on him every now and then, and he always politely told me he was fine.

Once I was within reach of him, he let out a good trill-meow to register his approval. He had no trouble letting me touch him and pet him. In fact, when I leaned back a little, he reached out to me to pull me back close again. We exchanged the usual formalities, but then it was time to get down to business and get out of this tree. After sitting across two small limbs for the past 24 hours, Zephyr was uncomfortable, and I knew he would welcome the sight of a carrier with its large expanse of solid, flat floor where he could stretch out with ease. I lifted the carrier up to him, and, as expected, he took a look inside and decided, yes, this would do nicely. He stepped inside, and then I struggled for the next minute attempting to get his tail inside so I could close the door. Once he was secure inside, he settled down just like he had been wanting to do so badly. Since he wanted to look his best once he went down to the welcoming reception and celebration, he began to groom his coat, while I worked on getting him down safely.

After we descended into the depths of the Azalea Sea and emerged safely on the ground again, I brought Zephyr to Sherry and her seven-year-old daughter, Blakely. They had been very distressed over Zephyr's plight and did everything they could to get him down, and, now, they were very relieved to have him down and safe again. They all connected again while Chubby watched, and then Chubby wanted his turn. Chubby wrapped his paws around Zephyr's neck and pulled him close for some face grooming. After a few minutes of that, Zephyr came toward me and then began to inspect my gear for himself. While he did that, Chubby went inside the carrier to inspect it further. Once the inspections were completed, I packed up my gear and left feeling very honored to have served two of the coolest cats in the world.