DevilTree.jpg DevilCloseup.gif

The cat is out of the tree

An archive of the story that unfolded
on my homepage in Nov, 2003.

We came home from Thanksgiving Day (2003) dinner just before midnight, to find that the front door a smidge ajar and one of the cats—Devil—was missing. A little bit of calling and searching found her in the strip of woods between us and the neighbors' house. When we went to pick her up, she panicked and ran up a nearby tree. She didn't stop until she was nearly 30 feet up the tree.

She's an indoor kitty and had never been outside before, so we were worried that when she did get down she'd still be lost and scared outdoors and might do somethings else stupid before we knew she was down and could let her into the house. So we spent the night in turns at the base of the tree, trying to coax her down.

The next morning we laid a 24 foot ladder up against the tree, in hopes that if we were just a few feet away, we could coax her down a bit more successfully. What we did was manage to scare her up the tree. She stopped in the next crook, about 20 more feet up. When it started to rain she got really upset and climbed another six feet. The wind was good for another 3 or 4 and slowly over the intervening hours she has travelled higher. She's now at about what I estimate to be 70-80 feet.

In the close-up picture above she is on the branch that runs from upper left to lower right, and not the somewhat thicker branch that runs from lower left to upper right. That ones a couple of feet closer to the camera.

By Monday morning Devil had been in the tree for 80 hours and we were beginning to worry about exposure. The temperature had been in both the 60s (degrees Fahrenheit) and the 20s. It had rained and snowed. Devil was above the level of most nearby trees near the top of the highest hill in town, and she is a very small skinny cat with a very short fine coat. Her cries were becoming a little weak. So Selma started calling the Animal Rescue League and most of the tree services in the area. The Worcester ARL couldn't help, but recommended the Boston. All of the tree services agreed that the job would take at least two people and equipment. They didn't make any promises.

In the afternoon a fellow arrived from the Boston Animal Rescue League. He couldn't get much closer than 10-15 feed from Devil. When he did, she fell about 5 feet to the branches below. He left, saying he'd come back the next day with another fellow, if he was still needed. A while later, two fellows arrived from one of the tree services. They had the advantage that there were two of them, and that one was much smaller than the fellow from the ARL. He managed to get to a place where he could just barely reach out to touch the cat. Devil panicked and fell onto a pile of leaves at the base of the tree.

And was off like a shot! -- away from the house and around the neighbor's. By the time they found her under the neighbor's car, she had realized the engine was warm from being used and was climbing up into it. Between them, Selma and one of the tree service guys wrestled her out of the engine and Selma snuggled her under her coat.

Devil's really skinny now, and her nose and paw pads were badly chapped, but she's getting better, mostly by sleeping. After seeing her, I have to agree that Selma was right to worry about exposure. I wouldn't to have wanted to have someone climb after her in today's storm, and I think being out there another day or more would have been very bad for her health.