Midnight and Myshka

When I went to rescue Midnight, the one-year-old black cat belonging to Tristan and Janie in Baton Rouge, he did not look like a kitty that had been stuck in a tree only three hours. No, instead of pacing and fussing about being stuck, he was perfectly quiet and still and looking like he was either exhausted, depressed or just trying not to be seen. Midnight is an indoor-only, friendly boy, but now that I was in the tree with him, I could not get him to look at me, much less make friends with me. He simply crouched motionless and quiet a few feet out on the limb and hoped I would just leave him alone.

Midnight was twenty feet high in the next door neighbor's Sweetgum tree which was just across the fence. When he escaped the house, Midnight was surprised to learn that there was an unfriendly dog next door, so he climbed the tree to escape. The next door neighbor kindly brought the dog inside so that Tristan and Janie could coax Midnight down, but Midnight didn't know how to climb down.

I slowly reached out to Midnight, but he ignored me. He just needed some reassurance that I was a safe and friendly guy, so I touched him gently and gave him a gentle petting. Midnight, unfortunately, was not reassured, so he eased farther out the limb to get out of my reach. I waited for him to settle down, and then I eased out to get closer to him. This time, instead of just trying to reassure him, I was prepared also to bag him. I petted him gently and calmly massaged the scruff of his neck and then lifted him off the limb and pulled the bag over him.

I brought him down to Tristan and Janie, and they took him inside to release him. They had been very distressed about him, so they were greatly relieved to have him down and back inside again.

The next day, Easter Sunday, I got a call from Jolie whose cat, Myshka, was stuck in a neighbor's tree just two or three blocks from my house. Myshka was chased up the tree by a dog that got loose the day before, and this two-year-old Russian Blue boy was not happy to be stuck there overnight.

Myshka was about 20 feet high in a large, tall tree that gradually curved in such a way that left the entire canopy to one side of the trunk. The tree extended well above him, and it would be very difficult to reach him if he went much higher, so my first priority was to make sure he did not go higher. I set my rope so that I could climb, hopefully unseen, on the opposite side of the trunk from him. I wanted to be above him when he first saw me so that, if he was afraid of me, he would try to go down instead of up. That turned out to be a wise decision, because he was indeed surprisingly afraid of me. He tried to escape from me by climbing down, and, at first, I thought he would do just that and go all the way to the ground, but the trunk had an awkward, negative curve to it on that side that is too difficult and frightening for a cat to negotiate. He simply stopped there and held on in a vertical position caught between the scary curve and likely fall below and that scary man above. He was trapped.

A cat cannot hang vertically to a tree like that for very long. It's a very tiring position to be in. I  knew he had to make a move soon, but I still thought he would go down by going around the trunk a little bit where the curve became easier to climb. To my surprise, he somehow decided I was the lesser of two evils, and he climbed right back up to his original limb where I was now standing. I reached down and gave him some reassuring pets and then bagged him.

Jolie and her sister, Amy, were both waiting down below, and they took Myshka home and released him there. Amy had first rescued Myshka and his littermates as small kittens and eventually found a good home for all of them except Myshka, but Jolie fell in love with him and took him home with her. They both had been very worried about him in the tree, and both were very relieved to have him safely down.