"Poppy", The Kitty Who Got Trapped

(early August 2017)

Executive Summary

"Poppy" was stuck 70 feet up a tulip tree in Cottondale AL before her rescue. Josh R, a local climber, tried to rescue her on day #3 but she was skittish, and stayed out of reach - he did not have a rescue pole or net. I was called on day #4, and we decided to put a trap in the tree. The kitty went into the trap and I retrieved her on day #5. Jan F., and Mr & Mrs. Charles F (Jan's parents), many thanks for your extremely generous donations to the Oktibbeha County Humane Society!


It was a Tuesday morning when I noticed a message on the Kat Fone. It was from Josh R, a climber in Tuscaloosa AL who had been unable to rescue a skittish kitty the previous day and wanted some advice. I called back, and Josh said the kitty was on a limb at about 50 feet, but far out. He got up there, but could not reach the skittish kitty as he did not have a rescue pole or a net. We discussed options, and he suggested a live trap. I told him that I had one, and that I would go out that afternoon to place it. I then called Jan, the owner, and arranged to be out there that afternoon. Josh had left his throw line in the tree so it would be easy to pull my rope up.

When I arrived, Jan led me out back, down a hill to a barbed wire fence. This was at the top of a gully, and we could see across it to where the kitty was stuck. The base of the tree was at the bottom of the gully. The kitty had moved from the previous day and had climbed to 70 feet -- the limb she was on was even with Josh's tie-in point at 60 feet, but she was way up a limb from there. Jan and I agreed to try a trap first, before I got more aggressive with a rescue pole or net. The kitty had been semi-feral (Jan had adopted the mother and two kittens, this was the girl kitten, 1 year later), and was not friendly to strangers. I hauled my gear across the fence and down the gully. I geared up and started climbing.

When I reached the tie-point, I hauled myself up on the limb that the kitty was on. The kitty was just barely in rescue pole reach, but still had a bit of retreat room, so the trap was still the best option. I did try a remote food-on-a-stick bribe, but she was not interested. I secured the trap with two bungie cords and a fail-safe attachment to the limb via webbing/carabiner. I put two cans of wet cat food in the back and set the trap. I descended, and told Jan to let me know the next morning if the kitty was in the trap. Josh arrived about midway through the climb and offered advice and encouragement from the ground.

That night, I planned on a rescue approach in case the kitty did not go in the trap. I would have to stem climb to the next good tie-in point which was 15 foot up, then swing over to the kitty's limb and use either a net or rescue pole. This would be risky, as the kitty could either jump or fall, so I hoped it would not be necessary.

The next morning, Jan texted me and said she could hear the kitty, but no longer see her. A little later, when the sun had risen more, she verified the kitty was in the cage! Hooray! I did a little celebration jig around the office and then set a text to Josh, letting him know as well. Josh was just as relieved as me. That afternoon, I drove over. I ascended, and sure enough, "Poppy" was in the cage and not very happy. It did not take long to unhook the cage from the limb, and descend back to the ground. Jan took "Poppy" to her outside pen where she, her brother and mother spend the nights protected from predators, and let her out of the cage. Poppy carefully explored around, and then headed straight for food and water. Whew, I hope she stays out of trees in the future!