No one noticed when or how Smoke escaped outside, but it did not take long for everyone in the family to notice his absence. Smoke is a much-loved, six-month-old, indoor-only kitty, so the whole family began looking everywhere for him. They even took a slow, midnight drive all around the neighborhood in Mandeville hoping to catch a glimpse of him, and, when that failed, they gathered in the backyard afterward. It was then, on the third night, that Will, the ten-year-old boy in the family, heard a faint, familiar cry, and, after following the sound, they found Smoke in the next-door neighbor's tree. It was a great relief to find him, but it was also frustrating that they could not reach him. They tried repeatedly to coax him down, but Smoke did not have the courage for that.

I was there the next day to see if I could bring Smoke down, and it turned out to be a very easy rescue. Smoke is a friendly boy, and he was barely twenty feet high in a large tree that was easy to climb. He showed routine, mild caution with me at first, but he soon learned to trust me. He seemed willing to step on my lap, so I prepared the cat bag on my lap and tried to lure him there. He would place his front legs on my lap but not his back legs. After a few more attempts to get him fully on my lap, I gave up and held a carrier in front of him instead. He readily walked inside the carrier with no problem, and I closed the door and brought him down.

Most cats like to sleep a long time after a long stay in a tree, but Smoke was more interested in having some fun. He did eventually settle down with his brother, Merlyn, and that is when Lisa took this picture of them together. I am thankful to Lisa and Jonathan for providing all the pictures here, because my camera malfunctioned and I have no pictures or video of my own to use.

I think it is worthwhile to point out a lesson to be learned here for those who are searching for their missing cat. This family found Smoke because they were having a relaxed conversation in their backyard in the middle of the night, and Smoke heard them and responded. He would not likely have responded if there were other activities happening all around or if the family sounded tense or energized. It is at quiet and calm times when a cat feels safe to reveal his location.