"Poppy", Rescue #2

(early September 2017)

Executive Summary

Poppy, the skittish barn cat from Cottondale/AL, was stuck again. This time, 40 feet up near the same tree as the first rescue. She climbed to 50 feet when I tried to grab her, and was so far out the only option I had was to cut her limb. She rode the limb down until it got caught in the canopy, then jumped the last 15 feet to the ground. She was at her food dish in the barn 10 minutes later. Jan, many thanks for the restaurant gift card and for your generous donation to the Oktibbeha County Humane Society!


It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday when the Kat Phone buzzed with a couple of texts. They were from Jan. Poppy, the skittish barn cat that I rescued the previous month, was stuck again. She was in the same area, but in a different tree and not as high; she had been there since the previous day. The remnant of Hurricane Irma was due in Tuscaloosa the next day, so Jan and I agreed that we needed to get her out of the tree ASAP. I packed the truck and headed out.

When I arrived, Jan helped me lug my gear to the densely wooded gully where Poppy was stuck. She was in a large union at about 40 feet (square in the above picture). It took me about an hour to set a line at 50 feet because I was shooting fora small union above Poppy and the dense canopy made it a tough shot. I wanted to set the line above Poppy as I figured that she would run from me, either up the main the trunk or up the branch, and I wanted some climbing freedom. I finally established a climbing line and started up.

I went very slowly as I neared her, sweet talking and offerring food, but I could not get her to warm up to me. Every time I lifted my hand or food, she became panicky and looked ready to bolt. I finally asked Jan to call her from the opposite side of the tree in order to distract her. I then stood up quickly on my rope and tried to make a grab, but she was too fast and shot up the big limb about 10 feet, then about 8 feet on a small limb. This was better than the main trunk, as least she was isolated on the limb. I climbed up to my tie-in point, then used my lanyard to swing over to her limb. She was at the limit of my rescue pole, and I figured she would just dodge the pole and fall if I tried it. I decided to cut her limb as the canopy was very dense at 20 feet, and there was little chance of the limb falling all the way to the ground. The picture below shows Poppy at the end of the limb. The red circle in the picture above shows Poppy's approximate location after climbing the branch.

Before cutting, I put a rope on the limb to help retard its fall. However, I did not use a munter hitch, so it fell faster than I was expecting. That was probably good, as Poppy did not have time to react; she just clung to the branch as it fell. The branch got hung in the canopy, and then Poppy transferred to a small tree with an old squirrel nest at about 15 feet. I came down just above her, pulled myself over, and she jumped the rest of the way to the ground. Jan went back to the barn and reported that she was there catching up on a meal. Jan and I exchanged high-fives when she came back; it was a relief that Poppy was safe from the risky fall. The entire rescue took about three hours. There is no as video, as a vine pulled my camera out of alignment. At least the weather was cool for the rescue, a big improvement over the first rescue! The picture below shows Poppy (middle) eating with her brother and mother after the rescue.