'Little Bit' - The First Rescue - A near Disaster

(May 2013)

Executive Summary

This was my very first rescue! And...I dropped the kitty. But it was only 15 feet, and she was fine.


About 8:30 am on Friday morning, May 24th/2013, I checked my phone and discovered that I had a missed call and a voice mail. The voice mail was from Mrs. S. in Tupelo, MS., and her cat "Little Bit" had been stuck in a tree for three days. She had been referred to me by the Tupelo Humane Society. I called Mrs S., got her address, found her house on Google Maps, and headed out after loading up my gear. I was excited, as this was going to be my first cat rescue.

When I got to the house after about an hour drive, Mrs. S. met me and led me to the tree where Little Bit was hanging out. Mr. S. also came out as well as he had that particular day off from work. The tree was an old oak tree whose main stem was rotted (you can see this in the picture on the right, the main trunk is broken off in the far right of the picture). There was only a couple of live limbs left, and Little Bit was perched on one of these. I was a bit leery of climbing a mostly rotten tree, but the limb and base that it was attached to looked strong, and I did not want to leave Little Bit up there. I put my climbing line in the main crotch (not visible in the picture), and then moved it to the crotch seen in the picture to the right of Little Bit. The plan was to hang under this crotch, and coax Little Bit to it and hopefully make a nab. Little Bit did come to the crotch, but was simply too far out of reach to make the grab.

I then finagled myself into the main crotch by using my lanyards. It was harder than it should have been because there was no available tie-in-point (TIP) higher than main crotch due to the rotted nature of the tree. Once I got there, I could lean on the limb and easily reach the crotch seen in the picture with my left hand. I put out a can of cat food, and Mrs. S. starting calling to Little Bit. After about 20 minutes, she finally came to the crotch. At this point, we were about an hour into the rescue, and I was very anxious to get Little Bit out of the tree.

I had the cat bag glove on my right hand, and I reached with my left hand, grabbed Little Bit by the scruff of the neck, and pulled her off the trunk across my body towards the bag. This really scared her, and she went berserk -yowling, struggling, scratching and biting. I then made a critical mistake and tried to transfer her to the gloved hand --- I did not get a good hold, and she twisted out my grasp and fell to the ground. Fortunately, it was only about 15 feet up, the grass in that area was soft and boggy, and she was ok - she ran straight to the house and found the food and water bowls. I checked with Mrs. S. the next day, and Little Bit had slept the night and was running around as per her normal routine all that morning. I was also informed by Mrs. S. that the neighbors that owned the lot and tree had it removed due to its advanced decay.

So, it was very fortunate that my newbie mistake did not harm Little Bit. What I should have done is simply kept Little Bit on the trunk and not lifted her off, and put the bag over her while she was still on the trunk. Hopeful