It has become a tradition. I always expect a last-minute rescue call whenever a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching, and so it was this time with tropical storm Claudette. The call came at 4:30 that afternoon just as the edge of the storm was causing some light rain to fall, but as I studied the forecast and radar picture, it appeared that I had a good chance to get this done right away. There was no lightning anywhere close yet, and the forecast showed that the rain would be ending in the area of the rescue.

The call came from Laurie near Greensburg, and her sweet, one-year-old, indoor cat, Elsa, had been stuck in a tree one night already. Her plea for help on Facebook resulted in a referral to me, and she contacted me right away. Laurie told me that Elsa was very sweet with her but runs and hides from other people.

When I arrived, Elsa was perched near the end of a very long, horizontal limb where indicated by the red circle in the picture. That limb comes from the large tree just to the right of center in the picture, but it passes through a fork near the top of the smaller tree (yellow circle) to the left. I did not see a good way to get out to the end of the limb where Elsa was, so I was very concerned that I would not be able to get close enough to her unless I got some cooperation from her. If I installed my rope up high above her in the large tree, that process would probably scare her, and if I used that rope to walk out her limb, my body towering above her could also be intimidating to her. Instead, I decided to quietly install my rope well below her on the lowest limb of the small tree and gently climb up to her limb from there while keeping my body below her height. I would not be able to go out to the end of her limb from there, but she would be more likely to come to me since I was not nearly as threatening and frightening.

It was a gamble, but I was so pleased to see that it was working. As I climbed up the small tree, Elsa walked down the limb and stopped directly over my head. She was glad to have someone come up to her, but as I got closer, she walked farther down the limb just to keep a safe distance. Once my head was level with her limb, I reached my hand out toward her and patted the limb while calling her to me. She came toward me close enough to stretch out and sniff my hand. I let her sniff and then gave her a gentle touch with one finger. She turned around and walked away a few feet, but I was very encouraged by this. She just needed a little more time and the reassurance of a few more touches to come closer to me.

Again, I stretched my hand out toward her and patted the limb, and, again, Elsa came to me. She sniffed my hand, let me touch the top of her head, and then she walked away again as before. The next time I put my hand out, I kept it closer to me so she would have to come a little closer to sniff it, and she did just that. But, again, she turned around and walked away. We played this game five times before she finally came close enough to me where I could grab her by the scruff. I pulled her off the limb and put her in the bag, and she did not fight it. Once inside the bag, she complained a bit, but I held her and reassured her before bringing her down.

I was so happy that Elsa made this rescue so easy for me. Laurie and her mother, Judi, had both been very stressed about Elsa and were now very relieved to have her down and safe. They had been distressed to think of her stuck in the tree during the storm that was forecast for that night and the next day. They took Elsa inside and released her there and sent this picture of her to me later that evening.