I have to confess that I was not thrilled to hear from William about a cat stuck in a tree in Mobile, Alabama. While I am willing, in principle, to drive up to Alaska to rescue a cat in a tree, there is a practical limit to how far I can go, and the three-hour drive to Mobile is about that limit. But when I learned that efforts to find local resources had failed and that the cat had been stuck in the tree for two weeks, I could not simply ignore that. Once I know about it, I'm going to do it.

William had just come home after spending more than two weeks in the hospital recovering from severe injuries due to a crazed driver who intentionally tried to run over him with his car. William was hit hard three times but managed to keep himself above the car each time. He felt fortunate to survive even though he was now in pain and having to use a walker to get around. Even though William had every reason to think of no one but himself, he could not help but notice the cat in the back yard next door to him crying desperately from 40 feet high in the neighbor's Pine tree. William did not know the cat, and, after talking with his neighbor, Betty, he learned that she did not know the cat either. Betty told him that the cat had been stuck there for two weeks, and she could not find anyone who would rescue the cat. William put out a plea for help on Facebook, and someone referred him to me.

Betty has large dogs that run freely in her fenced back yard, so it's a good thing that this cat did not fall out of the tree. Thankfully, Betty graciously left her workplace to meet me at her house and put the dogs away for the rescue. The cat was crying desperately to me below and trying to come down. He could go only so far and then he climbed back up to the larger limbs where he was more comfortable. He was clearly a tame cat and had been very vocal about trying to get the attention of anyone who passed.

Since he was an unknown cat, I had already made arrangements with the Mobile SPCA to take him once I got him down. They would find his owner or, if the owner was not found, put him up for adoption.

When I climbed up to him, he was clearly happy to see me. He had no hesitation or caution with me at all and made friends with me right away. He was a beautiful long-hair black cat with a white spot on his chest. He trusted me right away, but he was so desperate, I suspect he would have trusted a gorilla to bring him down at that point. He was just so happy to finally have some company after being stuck there for two weeks.

I got into position so that he could step onto my lap, and I was pleased to see that he showed interest in doing just that. I wanted to bring him down in the cat bag so that I could easily and securely check him for a microchip once we were on the ground. I can't do that when he is in a carrier, so I did not even bring the carrier up into the tree with me. Since he was willing to get on my lap, I spread the cat bag on my lap so that I could just lift the sides of the bag up around him. Sometimes, this technique works better in theory than in actual practice, and this was one of those times. He kept moving around and wanting to get closer to me, so I was having trouble keeping his whole body inside the circle formed by the sides of the bag. This sweet boy even gave me some head butts while I was trying to work the bag around him. When it got too awkward, he would step back to the tree, and we had to start all over. He stepped on my lap three times before I was finally able to get the bag completely around him.

I brought him down and took him to the front yard where William held him and kept him perfectly calm while I worked to get all my gear out of the back yard so that Betty could release the dogs and return to work. With that all done, I returned to the front yard and scanned the cat for a microchip. To my surprise and delight, I found a chip! I recorded the number and then released the cat into a carrier where there was a bowl of food waiting. He started eating the food the instant he saw it. Betty did not want to leave until she saw him eat, so, with that, she was satisfied the cat was going to be okay, and she graciously let us continue dealing with the cat in her front yard while she returned to work.

I called the microchip company and gave them the microchip number. The woman I spoke to told me the cat's name is Tarrare. She didn't even attempt to pronounce it; she only spelled it, and then I understood why. I was not sure how to pronounce it either. She tried to call the owner but got no answer, so she left both a voice and email message with my contact information. I was hoping to hear from the owner before I could finish packing up, but I didn't, so I proceeded to take the cat to the SPCA where I knew they would take good care of it until the owner contacted me.

On my way back home, I got a call from the owner. Her name is Laura, and she was super thrilled to have found her cat. She said she had already picked it up at the SPCA and taken it home. I was a little puzzled how she knew it was there since the microchip company did not know that, but, it so happens, that Laura is a veterinary technician and a well-known, frequent volunteer with the SPCA, and, when they looked up the microchip number, they recognized her name right away.

Laura told me that her cat had been missing for 19 days, and we know he was stuck in the tree at least 15 or 16 of those days. It's possible he was in the tree the entire time and was not noticed at the beginning, but we can't know that for sure. Laura told me that he is two years old and such a friendly and outgoing boy, he would readily walk into anyone's house or jump into a car of strangers. She did not know it, but he was only six houses down the street all that time. She had been very worried about him those 19 days, but that was all over now that he was safely back in her arms.

As for his name, well, that's another story. He is named after the 18th century Frenchman who was a soldier and a showman known for his abnormal and extreme appetite and capacity for eating huge amounts of food. I won't go into the details, but I will give you a link to the Wikipedia article ( 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarrare ) where you can learn more about him, if you dare. (Warning: not for the squeamish.) Tarrare, the cat, had quite an appetite that reminded Laura of Tarrare, the man, so that his how he got his name.

So this long-distance rescue turned out to be very enjoyable. With all the interesting stories, the sweet cat that had been stuck for more than two weeks, and the wonderful outcome of the rescue, I didn't mind the drive back home at all. It was definitely worth it.