"Tigger' - The kitty who missed easter

(April 2014)

Executive Summary

"Tigger" was a young tabby from Memphis stuck 25 ft up a tree for the entire Easter weekend. His owner, Ms. S., called me on Easter Monday and asked if could rescue poor Tigger. I said that I could, and after I arrived at the scene Tigger was back on the ground in about 30 minutes, with no injuries to either him or me.


It was about 1:30 pm on Easter Monday, and I was staring at the Kat Fone, urging it to ring. My desperation was for two reasons. Reason one: my cat rescue mojo was at a critically low level since my botched "rescue" of Romeo a couple of weeks back, where I scared Romeo out of the tree with careless line setting before I had a chance to climb the tree. I needed a successful cat rescue to reaffirm that I was indeed a cat-saving hero and not a wannabee schmuck. Reason two: I had agreed to accompany my power-executive wife to a business function that night. However, we had negotiated an 'out' that if a cat needed rescuing, I was free to go (she has a large heart for kitties, so this was an easy negotiation!).

So..back to staring at the Kat Phone -- I was pretending to be Charles Xavier (aka 'Professor X'), sending out telepathic entreaties to any owners of cats-stuck-in-trees in the surrounding area, letting them know help was standing by! After about 5 minutes of telepathic entreaties, I decided that it was not working, and resigned myself to being a social butterfly at the business meeting. My moping was interrupted by a "Meeooowwww!!!ROOWWWLLL!!!" -- the Kat Fone was ringing! I snatched it up with a breathless "HiBobReeseHereHowCanIHelpYou?" and listened to Ms. S from Memphis tell me about "Tigger", who had been stuck in a tree since Good Friday. She heard that I could possibly help, and I confirmed that I would be happy to assist.

After wrapping up a few things in the office, I headed home, packed up the truck, and headed to Memphis. When I arrived, Miss S. was standing in the driveway, looking up into a tree. I followed her gaze, and saw Tigger perched about 25 feet up a hardwood whose trunk had broken off at that point -- Tigger was sitting right on top of it, and the tree only had a few scrawny limbs up to that point. Tigger was a young kitty, and did not know how to get down. While I was watching, he lowered his back legs over the edge, and looked like he might start backing down the trunk, but he was not brave enough to let go of the top edge of his tree platform. So, he scrambled back over the edge, and then looked down at us, crying for help. Ms. S. said that Tigger had been doing this all weekend, and that a previous rescue attempt with a ladder was unsuccessful. Ms.S. introduced me to her son and daughter, and then I examined Tigger's tree more closely.

The tree had no limbs to attach a rope to -- there were a couple of neighboring trees, but none were close enough for me to climb and then reach this tree. This meant that I was going to have to use spikes to climb the tree, which is my least favorite climbing method as I don't have much practice with them, and spikes damage the tree. However, this tree was in such poor shape to begin with that a few spike marks were not going to make that much of a difference. I strapped on my spikes, and started up. Fortunately, the few limbs on the tree were easy to work around and after about 20 minutes of slow climbing, I was close enough to Tigger for a grab. I put the Kat Bag glove on my right hand, and stroked Tigger's ears with the same hand. Tigger was glad for the company, and started purring. After a minute or two, I grabbed him by the scruff, and with only a small protest, put him in the Kat bag. I then lowered Tigger and bag to the ground to Ms. S's son, who along with Ms. S., took him inside for food and drink. So, all were happy -- Tigger was safe on the ground!

A Caveat: Often times I learn new lessons about climbing during a rescue, and this was no exception. Read the rest of this only if you are interested in tree climbing topics. I had dragged a rope up with me (unlike my previous spike rescue, where I had forgotten it), and was able to use the rope to rappel down. However, once on the ground, my smooth rescue sputtered on a technicality. I had used a friction saver to attach the rope to the trunk -- a friction saver is a long strap with two rings, one large, one small, with the rope passed through the rings - a friction saver prevents rope abrasion on the tree and lengthens rope life. To retrieve the friction saver from the ground, you tie a knot in the end of the rope. When you pull the rope, the knot passes through the large ring, but snags on the small ring, and you can pull the friction saver to the ground. This works fine as long as the rings are hanging down from a limb -- but these rings were against the trunk, and my knot became pinned in the large ring against the trunk. The rope and friction saver were stuck. This meant that I had to put my spikes back on, climb back up, and retrieve my friction saver. When I rappelled down the second time, I did not use a friction saver and simply put the rope around the trunk and one of the small stub branches (which I should have done in the first place!). So, lesson learned -- it added about 20 minutes to my total time at the site.