Luna's rescue was sabotaged before I even started. Luna is a sweet, three-year-old, strictly indoor-only, black kitty who got stuck in a tree just inside the woods behind her home in Gray, Louisiana. The tree was a double-stem Sweetgum tree covered with Poison Ivy, and Luna was 45 feet high in the taller stem where circled, but out of sight, in the picture here.

A well-meaning, ambitious, and brave neighbor offered to help, and his first thought was simply to cut the whole stem down. He hacked at the base of the stem on two sides with a hatchet as shown in the next two pictures (notice the large Poison Ivy vine that was also cut) before giving up in favor of another plan. He free-climbed the tree without any tree-climbing safety gear up to 45 feet high, but Luna viewed him as a threat and climbed out of his reach. He attached a rope to the stem at 45 feet to use for pulling the stem down in the direction he wanted. Roughly ten feet below the rope, he used a reciprocating saw to cut the stem two thirds of the way through. When he came down, for reasons unknown to me, he abandoned his plan to pull the top of the stem down with Luna and left the site as is.

When I arrived the next day, after Luna's third night in the tree, I quickly noticed the hacking on the stem at the base of the tree. Knowing it had been done just the day before, I was not terribly concerned about climbing it since it was fresh and the stem was still structurally sound enough for me. There were no useful limbs up high on that stem to use to install my rope, so I installed it on the other shorter stem instead. That stem was shorter mainly because the top of it had broken off sometime well in the past. My plan was to climb up to the top of the stem, evaluate the situation, and then move over to Luna's stem if needed.

When I climbed up to the top of the stem, I saw Luna for the first time about ten feet above me where circled in red at the top of picture. (The picture is tilted to show all the components in relation to each other.) I noticed the pull rope that the neighbor had tied to the tree, but I did not see the kerf where he had cut the stem (bottom right). A reciprocating saw leaves a thin kerf, and it was not obvious. I was thinking about climbing up Luna's stem to reach her when I finally found the cut shown in the picture. The neighbor had cut about two thirds of the way through the stem. There was enough strength in the stem to stay in place, but a good pull on the rope or a strong wind would easily bring it down. I could not possibly climb above that cut, and that left Luna 10 feet away from me. If I had not seen the cut and climbed above it, the stem surely would have broken, and I would have fallen to the ground.

Luna wanted to come to me, but she didn't have the courage to come straight down that stem to me. I could have reached her with the rescue-pole, but I just don't like to use it except as a last resort. I wondered if Luna would be willing to jump down into a carrier if I held it as close as possible to her in a vertical position so that the back wall became the floor. It was a lot to ask of a kitty to do, but worth a try. I reached the carrier up as high as I could, and the opening was about 10 inches below her. While I am holding the carrier, the distance varied because the wind was getting fairly strong and the two stems were swaying back and forth. Luna looked inside the carrier and thought about it, but she could not find the courage to jump into it. I opened a can of food, showed it to her, placed it in the carrier, and held it up to her again. She was more motivated now, but still could not bring herself around to jumping inside.

At this point, it finally occurred to me that I could tie the two stems together to pull them closer while also stabilizing Luna's cut stem. Once I did that, I could reach the carrier even closer, and, with the food inside, Luna found the courage to jump inside. I pulled her down and closed the door to secure her inside and slowly turned the carrier horizontal again knowing, but not caring, that the food would spill inside. When I yelled to her owner down on the ground that I had her, I could hear cheers and sighs of relief from 40 feet away.

Luna is happy and safe at home again, and I suspect the neighbor who tried to help is home feeling very sore and itchy from all the Poison Ivy rash that must surely cover most of his body by now.