Friday, September 20, 2013

Sweet Pea's Big Adventure

The cat’s stuck in a tree. It sounds like such a cliché, until it happens to you.

Last Sunday A.M., a faint, poignant mew came from far above, when Flo set out food for our outside friends. Her lap kitty Sweet Pea was about 30 feet up in the fork of one of our backyard trees.

We received all of the stock advice:

The cat will come down when she’s hungry.
No. She went without food and water for over 48 hours, and cried and licked her lips with thirst. We repeatedly called her attention to food and water at the base of the tree. We saw her chewing on bark.

If she can get up there, she can get down.
No. Some cats, like Sweet Pea, don’t figure out how to back down. They’re more than suited for climbing up, but not down.

The fire department will get her down.
No, they won’t.

Animal Control will get her down.
No, they won’t, either.

Every time we tried to coax her down, with all of the couch and chair cushions, pillows, pillowcases filled with laundry and whatever else we could muster in place, the neighbor’s dog ran up to the fence yapping. Probably what sent her up there in the first place.

I tried. Made it to the top of the ladder, with 10 feet to go, despite my fear of heights. I reached the event horizon, as far as I could manage without breaking my neck.

Lots of ideas. Some of them just silly. (Helium balloons? Give me a break!) Some might work, but they were absurdly expensive. I did make a basket out of a storage barrel, and bought 100 ft. of rope. After about 150 throws, I began to develop some modest lariat skills, and my tosses were well beyond the needed range. This tree, though, has rough, curled bark. The tosses that hit the mark were immediately snagged. It simply wasn’t going to work.

By 50 hours, with forecast storms heading our way, we finally located a fellow willing to rescue her for less than I paid for my first car.

Finally, help arrives. Our hero, John J., tree expert by day and serial cat rescuer by avocation, is only moments away from saving the day.

Or so we thought. Sweet Pea has other ideas....

I guess, she just sees a stranger, and panics.

After more than 52 hours in the same place, Sweet Pea rockets up the tree. 10, 20, another 30 feet.

Out on a flimsy, dead branch about twice as high up as where this all began.

Our intrepid hero follows her, with rappelling rope and full climbing gear, further and further, while we try to call her back.

We drag the cushions and pillows and laundry out, and again further out. John follows, to thinner and thinner branches. Minutes stretch to the better part of an hour. John warns us, if she jumps, she'll sail past the giant catcher's mitt we've assembled, and hit the concrete patio. I'm thinking about calling an ambulance for him, he's so far out to the edge of twigs...

John J. keeps talking to Sweet Pea in a soothing voice.

She moves towards him a little...

He talks some more. She comes a little closer, then closer.

Suddenly, he has her. Quicker than I can aim the camera, he's sliding down the rope with one hand, gray kitty in the other, and it's over, everybody safe. Batman couldn't  have done it any cooler.

               Minutes after the rescue

All is back to normal once again, and Sweet Pea is back to her regular job, proofreading Flo's stories.

On occasion she looks wistfully at the back door, knowing it will be a while before she gets another chance to climb a tree. Or take a swipe at the pup next door.

*Sweet Pea’s sister Sassy, shot out the back door in July of 2013, and disappeared. Fortunately, we’d had her microchipped – and on May 19, 2017, we received a call – she’d been picked up as a feral, after being abandoned in an apartment complex about 10 miles away, when someone who had taken care of her moved. She’s back home and very happy… I’m sure she’s also had some adventures, but she’s not talking.


Unknown said...

Nice story with a happy ending. That's a good thing, these days.

Unknown said...

What an awesome story :)