'Heather' - the Kitty with the Sharp Teeth
(late September 2015)
"Heather", a polydactyl Manx, had been stuck 50 feet up a tree for at least two days in Hattiesburg MS when Sara called me. It took two trips, but all ended well with Heather safely out of the tree. I did get a cat bite from Heather as I mishandled her, but it that is part of the hazards of kitty rescue. And thank you Nora (Sara's mother) for your generous donation to the Oktibbeha County Humane Society! Total rescue time over the two days including travel was about 17 hours.
It was a Sunday morning when the Kat Fone rang. Sara, from Hattiesburg, had a stuck kitty and wondered if I could help - she found my name by Google search. I said that I could, and packed up the truck. My last rescue was back in July, so I was eager to help the kitty. I was concerned about the weather as rain was due in Hattiesburgh about the time that I would reach the city. When I arrived, Sara met me and led me to the tree, which was a couple of blocks from Sara's home. My heart sank when I saw the tree, as it was covered in vines up to about 20 feet, and the base of the tree was a solid mass of undergrowth, bushes, and vines. At that point, Heather was on a limb about 35 feet up. It took me about an hour to set a line due to the vines, but I finally started up. As I climbed, Heather spooked and went up the stem she was on, then crossed over to the neighboring stem and perched at about 50 feet (so this means Heather is classified as a Skittish/Traveler, the toughest type of kitty to rescue). When I reached my tie-in point that was about 15 feet below her, rain began to fall. I started to set a second climbing line to get closer to Heather, but then the rain turned into a downpour, and I heard thunder in the distance. I told Sara that I would have to abandon the attempt and return the next day. Sara helped me pack up my gear in the monsoon rain -- when I told her that I was thankful for her help, she related that she had spent 8 years in the military as an MP, so a little rain would not hurt her :).
The next day, I arrived at 2:30 and Sara's adult daughter, Alaina, was there to help. We first thought that Heather had climbed down as her cries sounded like they were coming from the dense undergrowth around the tree, but we finally spotted her in the tree on yet a different branch. She had moved back to the leftmost stem where you can see her in the picture above at about 50 feet (picture taken by Sara's daughter, Victoria). This time it took me almost 1.5 hours to set a climbing line because of the vines (and at one point I thought I had all of my throwbags stuck in the tree). Chris, a concerned facebook friend, arrived and began helping as part of the ground crew, as well as Sara's other adult daughter, Victoria. I reached my tie-in point, and was able to install a second climbing line. This allowed me to reach the limb that Heather was on. Heather was about 8 feet out at the end of the limb and emitting scared meows. I tried coaxing her with sweet talk and kitty food, but nothing worked. I finally gave up, and pulled up my grab-pole that Chris had attached to a line. I had a large net on the ground that I wanted to use with the pole, but I was scared to try to pull it through the vines as I thought it might either get stuck, or get torn up, so I decided to use a normal cat bag (this proved to be a mistake as you can see in the video). The ground crew readied a tarp in case Heather jumped or fell. I was able to achieve a pole-grab around Heather's body and brought her to me, but I could not get her into the bag. During the tussle, I received a cat bite from Heather for which I don't blamer her, I would have done the same if I were in her place. Chris suggested from the ground that I just lower the kitty and pole together, which I did. Heather was corralled by the ground crew and placed in a cat carrier.
After I descended and we packed up the truck, Sara doctored my kitty wounds with hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, while her daughters took care of Heather with food and drink. When I was leaving, Heather was enjoying her food and water immensely.
So all ended well, and I have resolved to be more careful with the grab-pole on the next rescue and use the large net instead of a normal cat bag!
Many thanks to the wonderful ground crew: Sara, Alaina, Victoria, Chris, and Nicholas (Sara's grandson) - your support was much appreciated.
Heather can be seen chillaxing at her house after her ordeal in the picture below (picture by Sara).