With the rescues I do, the focus is always on the cat, so it's easy to forget sometimes that the cat owner -- sometimes, a whole family -- is involved as well. Yes, the cat is miserable and suffering in the tree, but what you don't see is the cat owner's misery and suffering which, sometimes, is worse than the cat's. Such was the case with this rescue for Panther, an inside-only kitty who escaped home early one morning and climbed a tree in the wooded area next to his home in rural Livingston, Louisiana. Panther is fourteen months old now, but Leyda first found him when he was only five days old and near death. Leyda nursed Panther back into good health, and they both bonded very strongly with each other. When Panther escaped, Leyda searched desperately for him, and, shortly before dark, she found him deep in the woods and stuck 35 feet high in a Pine tree.

Leyda and her family made valiant efforts to rescue Panther, but they were unsuccessful. Leyda was very distressed because she feared that Panther would not survive the night, so she desperately wanted to get him down right away. When she called me shortly after dark, I could hear the distress and urgency in her voice, but with the darkness and some thunderstorms in the area at that moment, I promised Leyda I would rescue Panther in the morning. While I tried to reassure her that Panther would be fine, I could sense that I had failed to do that. After we hung up, the storms calmed and cleared, and I began feeling guilty about not offering to go out to rescue Panther right away in spite of the darkness. After all, the rescue is as much for her as it is the cat. I called back and spoke with her son to say that I would go out there now, but, after we talked about it, they decided to wait till morning.

It can get tricky deciding when to do a rescue in cases like this even without considering the distress of the cat and the owner. Primarily, I was concerned about making matters worse, because there is risk in trying to rescue an inside-only cat in the dark, but there is also risk in waiting till morning. If I try to rescue him now in the darkness, he could climb down or fall and run off into the darkness. Not only would searching for him become much more difficult, he would be on the ground vulnerable to predators of the night. If I wait till morning, he might come down or fall during the night when no one is there at least to see which direction he went. As stressful as it is to have a cat stuck in a tree, it is much worse to have a missing cat who you may possibly never see again.

Fortunately, the next morning, Panther was still in the same spot in the tree, so I went out there as soon as I could. When I first started climbing up to him, he was so excited to see someone coming that he impatiently made moves to come down toward me, and I was afraid he might fall. Apparently, so was he, because, after that, he stayed comfortably in place and waited for me. Once I reached him, he trusted me right away. After our introductions, I held a carrier up in front of him, and he took advantage of the relatively comfortable accommodations and stepped inside. After getting his tail safely tucked inside, I closed the door and took him down.

With great relief, Leyda took him inside and released him there. The difference between her voice and demeanor now compared to the night before was huge. Her child was fine and safe at home now, so she was relieved, relaxed and at peace. That's a beautiful thing to see, and I am so lucky to be able to have a hand in this and experience this reward.