Panther and Charlie

After all the relatively easy rescues I have done lately, I knew I was due for some difficult ones, and this was the day when fate decided to present two challenging rescues to me. The first was for Panther, a four-year-old black cat in Denham Springs I twice rescued two years ago. Although Panther is normally wary of strangers, I had no trouble with him at the first two rescues and found him quite cooperative, so I was not expecting anything different this time.

Panther was about 35 feet high in a leaning Tallow tree, and I had no place above him to install my rope. Instead, I installed it well below him and worked my way up to him. Everything was going well at first. We re-introduced ourselves, and he appeared calm and let me pet him, but because I did not have a rope above him, I could not pull myself up high enough to reach him comfortably. I held a carrier up to him, but he didn't appear to like that very much. I needed to get higher, so I moved a small limb out of my way and pulled myself around to the other side of the stem where I could get a foothold. I'm not sure what scared him -- moving the limb, or shaking the stem, or something else -- but Panther scampered up the stem even higher. If this stem had been vertical, I could have climbed higher, but I did not feel safe going any higher on this leaning stem. I could not lure Panther down any lower to me, so I reluctantly decided to abort the rescue with the intention of returning the next day when, hopefully, Panther will have found a way to go down lower in the tree.

I went back down to the ground, and within minutes, Panther started going back down the stem. When he reached his original spot, he settled there. I was happy that he did this so soon and saved me a trip the next day. My rope was still in place, so I climbed back up to him, and Panther and I agreed to simply start this rescue all over again. This time, I prepared the cat bag over my arm, massaged his scruff, and then pulled him off the limb while pulling the bag all around him. This boy was finally secured and headed back down to the ground after spending two nights in the tree.

From there, I drove to Hammond to rescue Charlie, a four-year-old Siamese who had spent one night in a tree in the wooded area behind his home. His owners, Russ and Tish, were very worried about him. When Russ led me into the woods to the tree which held Charlie captive, I was very discouraged by what I saw. Charlie was only 20 feet high, but he was in a large, sickly Sweetgum tree whose limbs were borderline dead or dying. It didn't matter since there was no way to shoot a line into the tree above Charlie anyway, because all the high vines and bushes all around the tree made that impossible. The only way to climb this tree was to climb it like one would a limbless pole which is a slow, tedious, and strenuous method better suited for small stems. The large trunk of this tree combined with the vines attached to it made this climbing method even more difficult.

The climb up to Charlie was as unpleasant and slow as I expected, but now I was at height with Charlie and ready to befriend him. Unfortunately, Charlie did not want to befriend me. I poured on the charm, sweet talk, and even food, but Charlie was not impressed, and the most I could get out of him was tolerance. He reluctantly allowed me to pet him, but he didn't like it. Clearly, he was not one to get on my lap, and I was not about to risk scaring him higher in this tree by presenting the carrier to him. Since I could pet him, I decided to bag him. I prepared the cat bag on my arm, massaged his scruff, and then pulled him off the limb. As soon as I did so, he started fussing, and before I could get the bag down around him, he started struggling and pulled himself free of my grip and fell to the ground. He made a soft landing since there was plenty foliage to help cushion his landing on the soft ground, and he immediately darted straight home. He is fine, Russ and Tish are very happy to have their beloved boy safe at home again, but I feel terrible. Yes, he is down and safe, but I failed to get him down safely and gently, and that is the whole point behind what I do. I will learn from this, but I wish I didn't have to learn at the expense of real cats and their owners.