Considering all the many and various types of suffering there are in this world, a cat stuck in a tree doesn't rank among the worst, but it's still a miserable time for a cat and worthy of relief. I was reminded of this after rescuing an unknown tabby boy in Maurepas who had been stuck in a tree for one freezing night. He was about 30 feet high in a Sweetgum tree and clearly miserable. He cried frequently to people below, but, to him, they appeared to go on about their activity without concern for him. He sat there uncomfortably on one round, rough limb restricted in movement and position while constantly being careful not to step off and fall. People, cars, and other animals passed below, but no one was doing anything to help him. As darkness fell, so did the temperature, and he had no place to go. He was exposed and lonely, and he had no reason to believe this would ever end. However, Shannon was one of those people below who heard his cry, and she noticed his plight. Even though it appeared she was doing nothing to help, she actually contacted me, and I went out there to help.

His cry was painfully heart-breaking to hear. Imagine him with his mouth wide open, eyes shut, and crying with all the intensity his little body can generate. He was so clearly miserable and desperate for help. When I climbed up to him, he was slightly fearful at first but quickly overcame that as I held my hand out to him to sniff. He turned his head into my hand, welcomed my touch, and relaxed knowing that this would somehow put an end to his misery. I spread the bottom of the cat bag over my lap and gathered the sides of the bag around it, and he readily stepped on my lap where I held him and comforted him for a minute as he rested his head on my arm. He was purring deeply the whole time and continued to purr even when I pulled the sides of the bag up around him to secure him for the ride back down to the ground. This sweet boy purred all the way down and continued to do so while I scanned him for a microchip. After finding no chip, Shannon's sister, Sierra, and I transferred him to a carrier and gave him some food to eat. Shannon had already told me she would take responsibility for the cat and find its owner, but I could also see that Sierra was quickly becoming smitten by him. If no owner is found, Sierra will happily adopt him and has already named him Gumball.

I left with such a satisfied feeling in my heart, and it's a difficult feeling to understand or describe. It's not just fulfilling, comforting, or rewarding. It's a sense that I have done something very valuable and meaningful. I'm not just taking up space and wasting the air I breathe. I feel useful. I am contributing to the relief of suffering. It may be very small in the world of suffering, but it means the world to that one cat. It's a very satisfying feeling, and it's one of the reasons I so enjoy what I do. I hope it's a feeling that everyone knows.