When Kenya called me early in the afternoon about her cat stuck in a tree, I wanted to help right away, but the more I learned about the situation, the more I realized that we needed to wait. Her cat, Cloe, is an indoor-only cat that escaped that morning and ran into a neighbor's yard which was being diligently patrolled by a very large dog who was somewhat less than pleased to see her. Cloe escaped his rude welcome by climbing a tree by the fence line. The neighbors were not home, so there was no one to take the dog inside. With the cooperation of the neighbor on the other side of the fence, Kenya was able to get close to Cloe, who was only 12 feet high, but was unable to coax her down. Kenya described Cloe as a skittish cat, so the risk was higher that any rescue action could cause her to climb higher or fall out of the tree into the jaws of the dog waiting below. If Cloe had not been skittish, it may have been possible to prop a ramp up to her and let her walk down on her own on the safe side of the fence, but just the action of putting the ramp into position so close to her would likely frighten her. Kenya was talking about finding someone with a ladder, but, again, the action of moving a large, noisy ladder into position so close ran the same risk. Even though I could hear the frustration and distress in Kenya's voice, I told her it would be best to wait till the dog owners came home so they could bring the dog inside. I needed their permission to be in their yard anyway. Hours passed without any word from Kenya, so I just assumed she found a ladder and managed to get Cloe down herself. Shortly after sunset, however, I heard from her, and Cloe was still in the tree. Kenya did, indeed, find a ladder and propped it against the tree, but, as expected, Cloe was frightened by it and climbed a little higher. The good news, however, was that the dog owners were now home and very cooperative. They brought the dog inside and gave me permission to go there to rescue Cloe. While I don't like to do rescues in the dark, especially for skittish cats, I felt compelled to do so this time, because severe weather was expected early the next morning, and Kenya was suffering and would not rest until her baby was safely down.
I thought that there was a very good chance that Cloe would come down on her own once I started creating a commotion in the tree above her with my rope installation process, so I intentionally created more commotion than necessary. Cloe noticed and would occasionally make a move downward, but she always came back to rest in her original spot. The more commotion I created, the more she adapted to it and was soon resting comfortably while ignoring it. It was time to climb the tree.
Cloe did not look like a skittish cat to me. In fact, she looked very calm and cool even as I climbed up to her. Once I was close, she readily reached down to sniff my hand and seemed perfectly comfortable with my approach. As I got closer to her, I petted her, and she remained calm. I was very happy to see this, since I was dreading chasing her higher in this tree in the darkness. Since I have had so many cats react negatively to the carrier lately, I decided this was not the time to risk that again. I immediately prepared the cat bag, waited for the right moment and then easily bagged her. This rescue turned out to be much easier than I had expected.
I brought Cloe down in the bag and handed her to Kenya. Kenya drove her home and came back later to return the bag. It was such a pleasure to see her so much more relaxed and relieved now that Cloe was safely home again. Kenya suffered far more than Cloe did, so the rescue was as much for her as it was for Cloe. But it is a pleasure to see that Cloe is more relaxed and comfortable now too.