Gris Gris

Gris Gris (gree-gree) is an indoor-only cat who escaped and climbed a sketchy Sweet Gum tree in a wooded area near her home in Baton Rouge. She climbed a skinny, near-vertical stem looking for a comfortable place to rest, but there wasn't one. She kept climbing until she was 40 feet high where she settled on a small, uncomfortable limb, and she started crying for help. Courtney, her owner, found her quickly and tried to coax Gris Gris down, but Gris Gris simply did not know how to climb straight down that skinny stem. Courtney cares deeply for her kitty, so she didn't waste any time finding me to see if I could help. When she called me, her kitty had been stuck in the tree only two hours.

I was a bit dismayed to see the tree that Gris Gris had chosen to climb. This small, crooked tree trunk rose about 20 feet where the top had apparently broken off long ago. That wound caused two new stems to sprout on opposite sides of the new top, and both of these new stems rose almost vertically for another 30 feet or so. Over the time that these new stems were growing, the broken top of the trunk where they emerged had been rotting, and there was a small, water-filled hollow there. Fortunately, there was still enough structure to the tree left to support those stems for now, but, because these new stems sprouted after the wound, they were more weakly attached to the tree. They were large enough that I could trust them with my weight up to a point, but I did not want to stress them very much lest they snap off.

As I began to climb up the new stem toward Gris Gris, I was paying attention to the reaction of the stem. Down low on the stem, all was fine, but the higher I climbed, the farther from the vertical center of the trunk I was getting and the more leverage my weight was applying to the weak junction of the stem with the trunk. To lessen the stress, I tied in to the opposite stem as well. That kept me closer over the center of the trunk and distributed the stress to both stems while also pulling the two stems closer together.

As I carefully and slowly climbed up to Gris Gris, I could see she was excited to see me coming for her. She was hot and panting and wanted badly to come down to greet me but could not figure out a safe way to do that. Since she couldn't come down, she stepped across to the other stem hoping that one would be better. There she began to lose her footing, so to get control again, she did what she knew she could do: climb up. She climbed even higher than before on the second stem, and now I was worried. I could not go to the wispy tops of these stems, but Gris Gris saved me and somehow managed to come back down to where she was. Then she managed to slide down even closer to me, and, at that point, I knew I could reach her. I inched my way a little higher and was finally barely within reach. I held an open carrier up to her, but, to my surprise, she did not walk inside. I put the carrier away and prepared the cat bag. I petted her and massaged her scruff and then lifted her off her tiny limb and secured her in the bag. She didn't complain one bit.

Courtney was extremely relieved and happy to have her baby safe in her arms again, and she repeatedly expressed her gratitude to me. It's a wonderful feeling for me to be able to do something that brings that much relief and joy to a person, and it is also a joy for me to get a sweet, cute cat like Gris Gris out of a miserable situation like that. Yes, this is fun.