Monday, April 21, 2008

Black cat in a tall tree

Day 1
I arrive at Casa Barranca and before beginning work I notice a double ladder, opened to the max, leaning against a huge pine tree. Jason arrives into the scene with his typical air of intensity and tells me that there is a cat stuck up in the tree. He points up and after some time I am able to spot the small black cat. It seems to be resting. I notice that the ladder does not reach the first branch and that it is straddling the roots. Not a very stable situation I think to myself. Regardless, I climb to the top rung of the ladder and am able to reach the first branch which is over my head. The black cat begins to meow. It is hungry, thirsty and distraught. I call out to it: "Come here, c'mon, its alright..." after five or 10 minutes I decide to come back later on my own time with some cat food. Some salmon will do the trick I think.

I finish work around 4, drive home and grab my climbing gear. When I return I see Bill. "Don't worry, I tell him, I'll get her down." I am armed with 2 cans of salmon and trout which Noah's Apothecary was nice enough to donate to the cause. I climb up the ladder wearing a climbing harness and dragging a 50m climbing rope. I also have some slack line to use initially as my anchor. Jon Benoit has volunteered to belay me. He is not wearing a harness and has the rope wrapped around his hands. I figure that the hungry cat will come right to me pulled by the smell of fish. After 5 or 10 minutes, the skinny black cat gets close enough to eat and it is ravenous. While up there it never stops meowing, except when it swallows the canned food. I keep trying to grab the cat but it is difficult because one hand is holding the can and one hand is holding on to a branch. I feel exposed and recognize my situation is precarious. Jon has never belayed before. I keep trying and manage to grab the nervous cat by the scruff of the neck but it immediately freaks out, tightens its skin and grabs the tree with all 4 clawed paws. Jon has been running out of time and so I finally call it a day after several more attempts. "Nice try." Jon says before returning to his winery duties. His coworkers breathe a sigh of relief as they get Jon back.

Day 2
I return the next day after having slept on the fairly complex problem of how to get a feral starving cat out of a tall tree. This time around, there is a strong stocky cook to belay me. I make sure that he is wearing a climbing harness. I go over the fundamentals of belaying and soon am up in the tree with the meowing cat once again. The cat knows who I am having started meowing the second it heard my voice. So here I am again with the same problem of using one hand to hold the tree, one hand to hold the can up where the cat could just stretch down and eat. I am actually able to pet it this time and it reaches its body towards my hand like it is drinking up my energy. Every time I try to scoop it up though, it scampers away. Even climbing to higher branches at times. Finally, it is lured down by the fishy aroma once again, I grab it by the scruff again and it freaks out. I try to keep it away from the tree but it grabs it easily and pulls itself out of my hands and I am left with tufts of black fur in my hand. I freak out a bit myself saying "I don't think that cat once to be saved! How frustrating!"The cat was able to almost eat the whole can. It sits on a higher branch, well out of reach and licks its fur. I climb down thinking that I will have to try again tomorrow when it is hungry again. I climb down the ladder, grumbling and mumbling while the small audience offers up a spattering of applause, recognizing my efforts.

Day 3
Once again I arrive at Casa with the little black cat on my mind. I have been trying to visualize getting her down but am just not able to see it. This time around, Laura has rented a 'have a heart' trap. There is a kind gentleman who has volunteered to belay me. It is Saturday around 430. Plenty of time for the cat to have gotten hungry enough to come near me. I climb up the ladder and call out to my little friend: "Hi, how are you doing? Nice to see you... are you hungry?" She meows and meows, she's tired, hungry and scared but happy to see me. She comes near me rather quickly and I am able to pet her easily. But every time I try to scoop her up, she scampers away. I try and try but every time I get her she uses her hind legs to dig into my forearms. She is a twisting ball of fur and claws and does not want to be held or picked up but she craves being pet. Finally, she tires of my attempts to grab her, hisses at me and scampers to a higher branch. Laura helps me navigate the trap up on to the tree and finally after a lot of coaching and support, I am able to position it onto the lowest branch with some of the canned salmon and trout food inside it. Laura tell me that she'll call me if the cat goes inside it. I drive home scratching my head, trying to figure out how I am going to get the cat down and also to get some sleep. The flu bug has bitten me hard and I will end up sleeping the next 14 hours.

Day 4
Just spent 9 hours in school. This time I have a vision on how I am going to to do it. I need to grab the cat with both hands and let my belayer lower me and the cat to the ground. This is the only way its going to happen. During all my other attempts, I never knew how I was going to climb down with one hand and still manage to keep the cat from digging into the tree and escaping my grasp. Tony volunteers to belay me. He is lighthearted and confident. he cracks jokes and flirts with the girls. I climb up the ladder. I don't even have any food. I climb into the tree and can see that the cat had nothing to do with the food in the cage and it has spoiled anyway. The skinny, skinny, black cat meows and climbs down to greet me. It must now just associate me with food and it loves me to pet it. So we do our little dance. I keep scooping it up and it keeps escaping. I am near the trunk where there are two branches at the same height. I have noticed that the cat will jump from one branch to the other here. I position my body in between these branches and almost immediately, kitty cat puts her two front paws on my chest. I hold them there with my left hand and then scoop up the rear of her body with my right hand. She meows and I call out: "I got her! ok! lower me!" Part of me can't believe it. As we begin to lower, black cat (Persephone) kind of shudders and yowls I tell it: "I'm just as scared as you." We gently touchdown. I release the cat and everyone cheers and excitedly congratulates us.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button


1 waves:

Blogger Mobileholmes said...

Friend of Pat and Kris's....what a wonderful story!

12:49 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home