'Pumpkin' - A Freezing Kold Kitty

(March 2015)

Executive Summary

"Pumpkin", an orange and white tabby, was stuck in freezing temperatures for two nights in Falkner MS. She was cooperative and made for an easy rescue.


It was about 5:00 pm, and I was about to leave the office, when the Kat Fone meowed. It was Amanda -- her mom's kitty 'Pumpkin' had been stuck for two days in a tree in Falkner MS and could I help?. I looked at the map, and Falkner is way up in North Mississippi, not that far from the Tennessee border. Winter Storm "Thor" had just rolled into north Mississippi and was heading south with icy rain, sleet and snow. It is a two hour drive to Falkner from Starkville, so I told Amanda that I could not come that night as it would be sleeting or icy rain and I could not climb in the dark in those conditions. I told Amanda that I would try the next day, but it would be uncertain because of the road conditions. During the night, the university cancelled classes for the following day. When morning came, we had icy rain in Starkville, but I told my wife that I was going to try to go to the kitty rescue by waiting until around 11:00 am, hoping the road conditions would improve somewhat. She became the Harbinger Of Doom, rattling off Facebook posts about how bad the conditions were, and showing me MDOT cameras around North MS that made the roads look hopeless. But I am a stubborn (stupid) guy, and decided to try anyway, so I headed out at 11:00 am after loading the back of my truck with firewood to give it extra traction. When I got to West Point (about 10 miles north of Starkville), I was feeling pretty good as the conditions were not that bad. However, north of West Point was another story. Of the two northbound lanes of Hwy 45, the left lane was a sheet of ice and the right lane had two small tracks with ice piled up in the center and on the sides. About a third of the way to Tupelo ( and after sliding a couple of times when I passed under overpasses) I realized that there was no way that I was going to make it. I had to go another hour north of Tupelo, and the last few miles were on country roads, not four-lane highways. I called Amanda, and told her that I was turning around, and would try the next day. I hated to do that as the temperatures were going to be below 20 degrees that night, but I had no choice.

The next day I worked until noon, and then headed out. The roads were clear, until the last country road leading to Pumpkin's house -- it had large areas that were solid ice/snow, but creeping slowly got me over them. When I reached the house, Amanda and her Mom (Jo) came out greet me. There was a black kitty perched about 25 feet up on a large limb on an oak tree in their front yard, so I told Jo that I had already spotted the kitty and that it looked like an easy climb. Jo told me that was not the stuck kitty :), that kitty climbed trees all the time and was perfectly fine. Pumpkin was stuck in a tree further down the road. Amanda led me to Pumpkin's tree, which was on the other side of a large drainage ditch by the side of the road, between a barbed wire fence and the ditch. The hardwood tree had a huge cluster of thorn bushes around its base, and it had lots of small branches in addition to its larger branches that made the tree look to be an uncomfortable climb.

Pumpkin was only about 20 feet up, and crying loudly.He looked very friendly, and I felt that he would be an easy rescue if I could get close enough to him. I hauled my equipment across the ditch and as close to the tree as I could, and managed to install a climbing line. I had to install it on the side of tree away from Pumpkin, because Pumpkin was on the side by the ditch, and there was no way to install the line on that side. This was going to make it more difficult for me to get close to Pumpkin when I got up there. Because of the thorns, I could not anchor the climbing line at the base of the tree as I normally would, and so I used a tree 30 feet away as a tie-off anchor instead. I waded into the thorns, and started climbing. As I climbed up, I had to continually fight small branches in order to get closer to the trunk (the video audio is bad due to all of the branches rubbing against the camera). When I got close to Pumpkin, he clearly wanted to be rescued, but was shy. I looked for my Kitty treats, and realized that I had forgotten them on the ground. So, I had to be patient and use my kitty sweet talking skills. Eventually, Pumpkin allowed me to stroke him, and then it was easy enough to grab him by the scruff and put him in the Kat bag for the short ride down.

Amanda took charge of Pumpkin, and the picture on the left is a post rescue picture of Pumpkin snuggling with Amanda (picture sent to me by Amanda). I am continually impressed by how tough kitties are -- Pumpkin survived a night of icy rain followed by a night of temperatures in the low teens. Yet, in the video, he appears and acts like he is none the worse for the wear! I wish that I was as tough :).