"Callie" -- Stuck in An iVy-Covered Tree

(late June 2016)

Executive Summary

"Callie" was stuck 20 feet up an ivy-covered oak tree for four days in Columbus MS before I was able to rescue her. She was hot, tired, and ready to be rescued. Ellen, many thanks for your generous donation to the Oktibbeha County Humane Society!


It was a Monday afternoon and I had just returned from my annual summer visit with my twin brother and his wife who live in Kentucky. I was catching up on email, and was complaining to my cat rescue hero friends, catrescueguy.com and rescuemycat.org that I was in a cat rescue slump when the Kat Fone yowled. It was Ellen - her 13 year old kitty had been stuck for 4 days in a tree, could I help? I said 'Heck Yeah!' and started packing up; the kitty was in Columbus MS which was only 30 miles away.

When I arrived, Ellen and her adult daughter Katie showed me the tree that was holding Callie prisoner. It was a tree climbers nightmare, as the tree had ivy all over it and its base was protected by large bushes and small trees. I spotted Callie at about 20 feet but it took me several minutes to decide on an approach for climbing the tree. I could get near the tree base on the far side of the tree but the small trees on that side near the trunk prevented any throwline shots. On the near side, large bushes blocked any approach to the trunk. I finally decided to stand about 30 feet out from the trunk on the near side and shoot a throwbag over a large union at about 40 feet. I would climb the rope on the far side and fight through the small trees and ivy on that side. I hit the target union with my second shot, and had to tie off the rope to my car as there was no other handy place for anchoring the rope.

I was at least 15 feet from the trunk when I started climbing, as the rope was hanging down through small trees which were preventing the rope from hanging next to the trunk. I cut ivy vines and small limbs as I went up, which eventually cleared the path for me and the rope to hang next to the trunk. My initial plan was to climb above Callie and descend to prevent Callie from spooking further up the tree. However, as I scanned upward, I saw a lot of poison ivy in my climbing path and decided to abandon that plan. There was a limb underneath Callie that looked like it would allow me to stand close enough to get a grab but I would not be able to prevent Callie from climbing higher. I decided to risk it, and began approaching Callie's limb. Fortunately, all of my crashing through limbs and ivy had occurred on the far side of the tree away from Callie, so she had not been spooked by all of the noise. As I neared her, she was facing away from me. I was concerned that she might bolt when I touched her because it would be a surprise, but I decided to risk it. I put the Kat bag on my hand and made the grab. She jumped a little when I touched her, but I realized she was wedged in a fairly tight union and did not have much wiggle room. I was able to maneuver her into the bag with little trouble, and was soon back on the ground.

I handed Callie off to Katie, who gave her some water with a syringe and some of her favorite food. As I was packing up, Katie told me that Callie was eating, drinking, and grooming so it appeared that Callie would be ok. I hope that Callie stays away from ivy-covered trees in the future!