Taking down the treed cat

Cat owners desperately want to help their treed pets.
Ken Sinclair of Portland, Ore., climbed 30 feet into a fir to rescue his kitten, Breather. The cat came down on his own. Sinclair had to be saved by firefighters, according to an Associated Press story last week.
I understand Sinclair’s impulse.
We had not seen Fat Cat for a couple days. But, we did hear a loud, pathetic, feline plea in the backyard.
It came from the top of a mature, loblolly pine where our gray cat paced the branches about 40-feet off the ground, too afraid to come down the way it went up.
We’ve been through this before with this cat. The first time it had climbed a curtain and frozen at the top, I reached up and lifted it down. It never climbed another curtain.
Next, it climbed a tree overhanging the house, jumped to the roof and walked over to the edge of the garage and whined, “help me down.” I rolled my eyes and told him to find the tree. Someone took pity on the poor young thing, grabbed a ladder and lifted him down.
A week later he did the roof routine again. Left alone, he figured out how to get down.
So when the cat mewed from the tree top, we shrugged – initially.
After 20 years of cats, we remember what the veterinarian said the first time we had a treed cat, “No one has ever found a cat skeleton in a tree yet. Put a dish of food at the base of the tree, call it and see if it will come down.”
My husband placed cat food at the base of the tree. He called to the cat. I called the cat.
Fat cat looked at us, looked at the food at the base of the 20 feet of branchless trunk, gingerly made his way down three layers of branches before scrambling back up the tree.
Three days of intermittent cat pleas and my husband told me his plan for ascending the tree to rescue the cat.
I told him we had a family trip planned that did not include a hospital visit.
My daughter came to visit and clicked her tongue invitingly at the cat. My husband told her his rescue plan. She told her dad he did NOT need to climb that tree to get that cat. It would come down.
Her friend came to visit, listened to the cat, talked with her fireman husband and reported, “Firemen don’t make cat runs.”
The cat continued to mew and pace from branch to branch.
My granddaughter came to visit. She puzzled over the cat with her grandfather.
With the granddaughter’s help, Mr. Fix-it rigged up a rope and a basket to deliver food to the cat.
The cat climbed down to the basket, ate the food and settled down for a nap in the basket.
Grandpa and granddaughter did a celebration march, grabbed the end of the rope and began easing basket and cat down.
The rope slipped. Cat, basket and food dropped. Fat Cat hit the ground on a run.
For the next several days – when he wasn’t eating – Fat Cat hugged the cement on the front porch. Finally, one morning he crossed the lawn to his tree, reached up as far as he could, claws extended and dug in with a vengeance.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. She can be reached at joanh@everybody.org.)