Georgie and Re

I have been celebrating Difficult Cat Week here with consecutive, all-you-can-sweat, exhausting rescues, and I am hoping the celebration comes to an end soon. I was driving to Mississippi for a rescue when the cat came down on his own about the time I reached the state line. I turned around and headed home, and, once I was about halfway home, I got a call about another rescue in Picayune, Mississippi. I turned around and headed there feeling happy that this trip was not totally wasted. When I arrived to see where the cat was in the tree, however, I didn't feel very happy anymore.

Georgie is a one-year-old black kitty who escaped his house and was missing for three nights when Lauren found him in a neighbor's tree several houses down the street. Georgie was near the top of a Sweetgum tree up high in the small wood where I could not go. Judging from the way the spindly stem was swaying in the wind, I did not think I would be able to get close enough to reach him even with my fully-extended catch-pole. I have had some hard-to-reach cats before, but I had serious doubts about being able to reach Georgie. I began climbing, but my progress was slow, painful, and troublesome. I was pleased to see that I felt safe going higher than I originally thought I could by tying myself to three small vertical stems to combine their strength. I was just within reach of Georgie with the catch-pole, so I tried to snare him. Georgie is a sweet, tame boy, and I assumed he would handle being snared just fine, but I was wrong. He fought it like a feral as I fought to lift him out of his perch, and he managed to slip out of the noose. He got back on the spindly stem and climbed it even higher where he was well out of my reach.

I have never had to do this before, but I climbed back down and, after talking to Lauren and Gene about it, I prepared to shoot a string over Georgie's limb and pull on it to shake him out of the tree while Lauren and Gene held a tarp below to catch him. They were in agreement, so that's what we did. I shook Georgie's limb and he fell about one-third of the way where he landed on the end of another limb. He was in a precarious position there and could not move, so I shot another line over that limb and used that line to shake him out of the tree. This time, he fell all the way to the tarp below. Gene had to move and bend back out of the way as Georgie landed on the corner of the tarp over Gene's chest, but it was a safe landing, and we all watched as Georgie ran all the way back home. Georgie was just fine, but I was dehydrated and exhausted.

The next day, I was hoping for a quiet day to recover when I got a call from Vanessa who was frantic and desperate for someone to help get her cat, Re, out of a tree in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Re had been stuck for seven days, and Vanessa was at her wits end after trying unsuccessfully for days to find someone to help. Re wasn't very high, but I could see he was not going to make it easy for me. He had the look of distrust in his eyes even though he allowed me to climb up close below him. His body was set and tense in position for a quick, upward escape if I made one move he didn't like. Still, I managed to calm him enough that he actually took a few bites of the food I offered, but he wasn't ready for me to touch him. I got away with one gentle pat on his rear end, but we were far from buddies. I made the mistake of gently inching myself a little higher up the rope too soon when Re decided that was too much. He climbed high up the branch and far out near the end of the limb, and I knew I would never get him to come to me. It was time to set a trap, so I went back down, prepared the trap, installed another rope, climbed back up, installed and set the trap, and came back down to wait. Fortunately, Re was in the trap 20 minutes later, so I climbed back up to him, lowered him in the trap back to the ground, and came back down for the last time while Vanessa took him inside the house.

Both rescues were about three-and-a-half hot hours long, and both were dehydrating and exhausting, but when I get to see how relieved and happy the people and the cats are when it's all over, it's all worth it. Still, I hope this Difficult Cat Week celebration ends soon.