"Senf" is the German word for mustard, but I am not clear what mustard has to do with this cat. Regardless, Senf is an independent tortie who likes to be close to her owner, Tina, but does not like to be touched very much. She likes some petting, but only for a short time and only with Tina. She is an indoor kitty, but she does get some very limited and supervised outdoor time once in a while. On one of those outdoor moments, Tina lost sight of her and could not find her. Tina assumed Senf would return soon on her own, but she didn't.

Tina's townhome faces a small parking lot bordered with townhomes in front and a six-foot wooden fence enclosing one side. On the other side of the fence is a wild, wooded area bordering a bayou. When Tina called for Senf, she could hear Senf respond on the other side of the fence but could not tell exactly where she was. Senf would not come to her, and Tina could not get across the fence. It is very difficult to determine the exact location of a sound in these circumstances, but Tina thought she heard Senf crying from up high in a tree. She called the Fire Department, and they actually sent someone out to investigate. The fireman found a way to get across the fence by ducking under it where a large drainage ditch went under it. He searched for Senf, but, of course, Senf would not respond to this stranger, and he was unable to locate her through all the dense foliage. The firemen left, but, thankfully, they gave my phone number to Tina, and she called me.

When Tina called me, the weather was pretty bad and not expected to let up for the rest of the day. I simply could not safely find and rescue Senf that day, but I promised to do so the following morning. During the night, the awful weather became even worse. The rainfall was extreme, the winds were very strong, and the lightning was constant. It felt like a hurricane at times, and many parts of town flooded. I felt so sorry for Senf during that night as I imagined him miserably holding onto the tree against the strong winds while the heavy rains pelted him, lightning flashed around him, and powerful booms of thunder surrounded him. The bayou beside him rose fast and completely flooded the ground beneath him as well as the parking lot of Tina's townhome.

By morning, the weather was calm though still unsettled, and another wave of rain was forecast for the afternoon. Tina told me that she went to the fence as before and called for Senf, but, this time, he did not respond to her. She feared he did not survive the stormy night. I went out there to search for her. Fortunately, the water had drained away quickly, and I saw a ladder at the fence that Tina had used to look over it. I went to the ladder and looked, and then I called out for Senf knowing it is highly unlikely that she would respond to my strange voice. To my surprise, however, she responded. I did my best to locate her from there, but all I could do was narrow down the search area. I went under the fence at the drainage ditch and slowly walked through the muddy jungle and swarming mosquitos to reach that search area and look for Senf. I called out to her, and she responded some more, but the undergrowth was so dense that I could not see very high above me no matter where I went. I suspected she might be in a very large tree on the bank of the bayou, but I could not see up into that tree at all. I went down the bank to the edge of the bayou where the view would, hopefully, be better, and then I saw her. There she was, about 30 feet high on the lowest limb of the tree, and she looked down at me with pleading eyes and cries. This independent girl was now ready for some help.

I went back out, hauled my gear to the fence and dropped it over the fence onto the muddy ground on the other side. I went back under the fence at the drainage ditch, collected my gear and hauled it to the tree. I could see only one sturdy limb I could use to install my rope, but I had to cut down two small trees before I had enough clearance to shoot my line up to it. Once I installed the rope, I began to climb up to Senf, and I was so pleased to see her looking down at me and rubbing her head against the trunk of the tree. That is a good sign, and that was unexpected coming from a cat that does not like people much, but that just shows how much five nights in the tree, including one with severe weather, can change a cat, at least temporarily.

Senf greeted me, sniffed my hand and let me pet her. She was happy to see me and ready to go home, but I knew that her friendly period was likely to be very short, so I prepared the cat bag right away. Indeed, she soon turned her back to me and hissed at me when I petted and scratched her back. I was not going to wait any longer. I grabbed her by the scruff and pulled the bag over her. She fussed, but calmed down when I held her on my lap and petted her calmly through the bag.

I brought her down and handed her over the fence to Tina who was waiting on the other side. Tina took her inside and released her there. Senf ate some food and settled in like nothing ever happened, and Tina sent this picture of her to me later. So all is back to normal in the household again, except that Senf won't be going outside anymore.