"Frieda"-- A Reluctant Kitty

(late October 2016)

Executive Summary

"Frieda" (made-up name) is a 3-month old foster kitten who was stuck 60 feet up a pecan tree in Water Valley MS before I was able to rescue her. She was skittish which made the rescue more difficult, but in the end was successful. Thanks to Sandra (foster care mom) and Marcia (a friend) for your support during the rescue and for everything you do in fostering kitties!


It was a Saturday, and my wife was traveling. I had just indulged in a large plate of nachos in front of the TV watching football, when I noticed a voice mail on the Kat Fone. It was from Sandra; one of her foster care kittens was stuck way up in a pecan tree. I called Sandra back, and arranged to be there later that afternoon. Sandra was referred to me by Natascha of 9 Lives Cat Rescue of Oxford, a kitty rescue group based in Oxford MS.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the foster Mama Kitty, who was happy to receive some scritches. I was a bit early, and Sandra had not returned yet from an errand. I could hear some faint meows, and soon located the large pecan tree that was holding "Frieda" (my name for her) prisoner. My mouth went dry when I saw where she was. Sandra had said "50 or 60" feet and I had been hoping she was exaggerating, but she was not. Frieda was not only 60 feet up, but at least 25 feet out from the main trunk at the end of a long stem. As I was debating internally on what to do, Sandra and Marcia (a friend) drove up. I decided to put a rope on the stem as near to the kitty as I could, and a safety rope in another portion of the tree. As I was preparing, Sandra and Marcia started sweet talking to the kitty. Amazingly, Frieda responded and came all the way back to the main trunk, about 30 feet up. Clearly she was a traveler, I was hoping that she would be friendly. I changed my plan to install a rope above her, hoping for an easy rescue. The tree was crowded, and it was difficult to get a good shot with my throwbag. During the chaos of the rope installation, Frieda became spooked and climbed further up the main trunk and out on another limb, about 12 feet from the main trunk. My rope happened to be on this same branch, so I hoped that I could coax her to me after climbing up.

When I reached my tie-in point (about 55 feet, Frieda was at about 60 feet), I began sweet talking to Frieda but it had no effect. I climbed up on the crotch, tied-in with lanyards, and detached from my ascent rope. I was now closer, and tried enticing Frieda with wet cat food at the end of my 'sidekick' extensible pole. Frieda showed no interest in this either; I needed to get closer. I saw that I could go up about another eight feet or so on the main stem, tie in, and then limb walk a bit until I could reach the crotch nearest to Frieda. I did so, and now Frieda was only about six feet out of my reach. Frieda was facing me, so I decided to try to prod her with my pole, hoping to force her to move towards me. I started prodding, and Frieda reluctantly started moving towards me. She stopped where I could just reach her her head but not her scruff, and then looked towards the neighboring branch, clearly intending to jump to it. I lunged just as she jumped to the adjoining branch -- she reached it, but I was also able to grab her right front leg. Fortunately she weighed next to nothing, so it was easy to drag her to me and stuff her in the bag. Whew! That was a close one; if I had missed the grab she would have been out of reach again.

The photo to the right (courtesy of Sandra), shows Frieda post-rescue. I hope that Frieda stays out of trees in the future!