Poor little Finn was stuck 25 feet high in a tree behind his house in Baton Rouge, Louisiana less than 12 hours, but, oh, how he suffered. It was a very hot day, and this little black-and-white, one-year-old kitty was so hot that I never saw him close his mouth due to constant panting. The worst part, however, was that he was far out near the end of a long limb balancing on small wood where he could not get secure footing. He was scared to move lest he make matters worse, but then this strange man appeared in the tree and started shaking the limb while trying to approach him. I did my best not to disturb the limb, especially with sudden jerks, but a certain amount of movement was unavoidable. He cried almost constantly in distress.
When I climbed up to him, I was expecting to be able to earn his trust and get him to come down the limb toward me, and I was not prepared to have him stay out at the end. Consequently, I didn't have the rescue-pole ready for use. I didn't even bring the carrier up with me because Finn has a very negative history with carriers, and I didn't want to risk scaring him with the sight of one. Over the years, I have learned that I can't predict a cat's reaction to a carrier based on his history. Some cats who hate carriers will readily walk into one in the tree just because it looks so much more comfortable than where they have been stuck for so long in the tree, but, since I was expecting Finn to come to me, I chose not to take the risk with him.
When I climbed up to Finn's limb, I could see him fidgeting in place, but he was not coming toward me at all. I went about eight feet out toward him, but, at that point, the limb was too small to hold much of my weight, and Finn was still at least another ten feet away. I had most of my weight supported by a rope from above, and I used another rope to pull myself forward, but I reached a point where I could not figure out how to go any farther. I struggled to inch my way out closer to him, but he was well beyond my reach, and the more I struggled, the more I shook the limb and made him more uncomfortable and nervous.
I tried to lure him to me, but I was having no success at all. It wasn't until after several minutes of this that I finally noticed the problem. Finn had his back legs dangling just above one small limb, and his front legs were placed on another limb, but his belly was held up high in a tiny crotch on a third limb. He was stuck there. His legs were all already fully extended and could not push him any higher to get out of that tiny crotch. The twig forming the crotch that was holding him in place was so small that I had not noticed it, and it was surprising that it could hold him. I decided to use my extendable pole to reach out to that twig to break it off to free Finn, but, just as I was about to do so, the twig broke on its own, and Finn was finally able to move.
Finn moved somewhat closer to some other small limbs, but he was still out of my reach and would not come any closer to me. He didn't seem to be afraid of me, but he appeared to be too afraid to walk on the small limbs because his footing felt too insecure. When I stretched as far as I could, I could barely reach close enough to Finn for him to sniff my hand, but he had no reaction to it. It was at this point that I wished I had the carrier with me. By holding the carrier out to him, I could reach closer to him, and I think he would have been happy to go inside where he would feel more secure. I could have gone back down to the ground, fetched the carrier, and climbed back up again, but I had spent so much time, energy, and discomfort in my struggle to get out to this point that I didn't want to go through that again.
I tried to inch my way a little closer, but I was having trouble doing so, and, while trying, I jiggled the limb so much that Finn got nervous and moved over to another limb hoping to feel more stable there. He was now closer than ever to me, and I could barely reach him to touch him for the first time. He was comfortable with my petting, but he was just barely within reach. It was frustrating for both of us. I needed him to come to me, and he needed me to come to him, but neither of us could make it happen.
Eventually, I got to the point where I could just barely reach his scruff. While it felt risky to try to pull him off the tree from this point, we had both reached our limits, so I decided to go for it anyway. I grabbed him by the scruff, lifted him off the limb, and pulled him toward me while pulling his legs free with the other hand. I pulled the bag over him, but his claws got stuck in part of the bag while he was clinging to limbs with his other legs. He was not in the bag yet, and I was losing my grip, so I put him on my legs while trying not to panic. Fortunately, Finn didn't panic, and I was able to finish working him inside the bag and securing him there.
I took him down and returned him to his very grateful family. While in the tree, I had noticed two small wounds on Finn, and they checked him out and saw the wounds too. It appears he got into a fight, probably with another cat. They took him to the vet where they found several bites and a large bruise on his hip, but he is otherwise fine. They are giving their beloved boy all the care and loving he needs, and Finn is already back to his normal, cuddly self.