After I returned home from Simon's rescue near Bunkie, I got a call from Alyssa about her cat, Boots, who had been stuck in a tree for seven days in Covington. She had just found him out in a wild, wooded area near her home, and he was high up in a spindly Pine tree. Finding him was quite an accomplishment, since, from the ground, he appeared as just a small spot high in one of many trees, and his cry sounded like it could be coming from every direction including on the ground. She created trails in the very dense undergrowth looking for him on the ground before finally realizing his cry was coming from up high, and then she found him 65 feet high in the tree.

I didn't want this two-year-old boy to spend a seventh night in the tree, so I rushed out the door to be sure I had enough daylight to rescue him before sunset. If I had known in advance what was in store for me, I probably would have decided to wait till morning. I didn't know that I would spend a significant amount of time just getting to the tree, nor did I know anything about the tree or how high Boots was or how long it would take for Boots to warm up to me. Fortunately, Alyssa had already created a trail leading to the tree during her several trips back and forth, but finding that trail proved to be challenging due to the density of the undergrowth, and the trail was often nothing more than a place where the vegetation had simply been pushed to the side and gradually returned to its original place after we passed through. I normally roll my heavy climbing gear to the site in a cart that I pull behind me, but there was no room for the cart this time. Alyssa helped me carry the minimal amount of gear by hand, and when I arrived at the site and discovered a need for gear I failed to bring, I worked around it because it was simply too much trouble to go back for it.

When we arrived at the site where, fortunately, the dense undergrowth yielded to an open and maneuverable area, Alyssa pointed to the tree and Boots, and I knew I was in for a challenge. The tree was a very tall Pine on a long, spindly, naked stem with no limbs until the top. I have often seen Pine trees like this and wondered what it would be like to rescue a cat in one, and now I was about to find out. I have climbed higher in trees than this before, but this feels higher and more exposed because of all the empty, lonely space all around that is normally filled with limbs and foliage. To add to the drama, a cold front was pushing through with strong wind gusts that were swaying the tops of the trees several feet back and forth. Yes, this should be fun.

When I climbed up the tree near where Boots was waiting, I was very disappointed to see that he was afraid of me. I really didn't want the trouble of a difficult cat in this situation, but Boots had been stuck up there for seven days, and he was too tired and grumpy to care what I wanted. My hopes for a quick, sweet rescue were quickly blown away with the wind gusts, so I changed gears and slowed down to gradually work with him to earn his trust. Boots was no push-over. He growled in response to every advance I made and every sweet thing I said to him. The only part of this rescue working in my favor was that Boots was perched a few feet out a limb, and I was blocking his return to the trunk where he could climb higher. I don't think he had the energy to do that anyway, nor did he appear the least bit interested in going farther out his limb. Boots was settled there and had staked his claim, and he was not going to move.

The most effective thing I can do to break the ice with Boots is to touch him gently, but I can't do that until I earn a little trust. I do that by extending my hand to let him sniff it and then pull my hand back. Boots growled at me every time I extended my hand, so I was not ready to put my hand too close to him. Alyssa had given me some of his dry food, so I shook that bag to get his attention and then held some food out in my hand. He still growled at me, but he was also interested in the food. It took a few tries, but he eventually found a morsel in my hand and ate it. After that small breakthrough, I extended my hand again, this time, to touch him, and felt happy and relieved when he let me do it. I built on that with a few more touches until I could pet his head and neck without any complaint. I prepared the cat bag on my arm and petted him again, and, after massaging his scruff, I slowly grabbed his scruff and pulled him toward me while pulling the bag around him. The wind had twisted my bag a bit out of place, so it took me a little longer to get the bag over him. I like to keep the time during which I am holding a cat by the scruff to five seconds or less, but it took me eight seconds this time. Still, Boots handled it perfectly fine and settled in the bag for the ride back down to the ground just before sunset.

With Boots on the ground, Alyssa carried him back home while her husband, Tyler, helped me carry all my gear back along the long trails through the dense undergrowth to my car. I stopped at their house to get my cat bag, and Boots was happy to be settling into the comforts of home. I'm very glad he didn't have to spend another night in that tree. I made a video of his rescue to give people an idea how it felt for both Boots and me to be in that tree. You won't be able to feel the swaying of the tree in the wind, but you will be able to hear and see the sights.