Our next-door neighbors have two cats who we’ve gotten to know fairly well. The cats are usually allowed out to roam their yard during the day, and they also often roam over to our yard, which provides endless drama and excitement for our cat.
On Wednesday afternoon, our neighbor came over and asked if we’d seen JJ, their large fluffy orange cat. He’d evidently gone out that morning but not done any of his usual coming-in-and-out since then. We hadn’t seen him, but helped her hunt around the neighborhood for him, to no avail.
Thursday was pouring rain. We really hoped JJ had made it home, but we didn’t see the neighbors around to ask. Friday, ditto.
On Saturday afternoon, E and I went for a walk. We were about half a block from home when the sun came shining through the clouds for the first time in days. It lit up the tops of the trees, and so I was looking up admiring the scenery. And suddenly there — stuck 30 feet up a tree — I saw a splash of orange fur against a dark pine trunk. JJ!
I ran to get the neighbor, who started shaking as soon as she heard I’d found JJ alive. After no sign of him for 3 days, she’d figured that he’d probably been eaten by coyotes. She and her husband came running back with me, and as soon as JJ saw his people, he started squeaking. Clearly, he wanted to get down, but had no idea how to do so.
Getting him down out of the tree took about an hour and a half, and by the time we were done, upwards of a dozen people from the neighborhood were there, lending their ladders and ropes and poles and advice to the effort. (Our town fire department does not help get cats out of trees.) Nobody had a ladder quite high enough to reach the cat. Getting close, and waving his carrier hoping he’d leap into it, served only to scare him out onto the limb. At that point, the plan changed to getting a rope over the branch and bending it down as low as possible, then convincing the cat to jump down onto a tarp held by several of us. Prodding him with a long snow rake at first only scared him into peeing on us tarp-holders. (And if you think cat pee stinks, try smelling super-concentrated cat pee from a dehydrated cat.) But the snow rake did finally convince him to transfer from the pulled-down limb he was on, to a lower limb, and he then ran along that back to the trunk. At that point, he was within ladder range, and the neighbor was finally able to carry poor scared squawking JJ down out of the tree.
We saw the neighbor today, and she said JJ has spent most of the last day asleep — aside from a brief foray toward his back door, hoping someone would be foolish enough to let him out again. Clearly, he is none the worse for wear, even though his people have been fairly shaken up by the whole ordeal!
And I continue to feel so amazed and thankful that the sun came through at just the right time and place, for me to see JJ up in that tree.