"Ramone" -- 17 Days Stuck
(late January 2019)
Well, the first rescue of 2019 was a doozy. And I hate doozies. "Ramone" was stuck 80 feet up a pine tree in Germantown TN for 17 days before his rescue. He was skittish, and my first try with the rescue pole missed causing him to fall. Ramone caught himself on a limb, then jumped to a neighboring tree. Ramone was now about 30 feet lower and on a small limb. I traversed to the other tree, and was able to snag him with the rescue pole. Many thanks to Aaron Andrews and his brother Taylor for assisting on the rescue. Also thanks to Jason (high school family member of Ramone's) and his friends for holding tarps underneath the tree!
It was the Sunday evening before MLK day, when I received a voice mail from a Memphis area code about a stuck kitty. I called back, and Stacy told me about a kitty in Germantown that had been stuck for 10 days in a pine tree, at 120 feet up. The kitty belonged to a neighbor. She said that the kitty was skittish, and that it had been stuck a previous time and had jumped 40 feet when a climber tried to rescue it. This time, another climbed attempted a rescue, but the kitty climbed to the tip-top out of reach. I gave her the number of Aaron Andrews, a good climber and friend who does cat rescue in the Memphis area. She said that she would call Aaron. To make matters worse, a concrete drainage ditch ran behind the tree, increasing the chance of injury or death if the kitty fell.
The next day, feeling guilty that I had foisted a tough rescue off on Aaron, I called Stacy back and left a voicemail saying that I would do what I could if Aaron was unsuccessful. I did not receive a call back, so I assumed that the kitty was rescued.
Fast forward a week to the next Sunday evening, and I receive a call from the same Memphis area code. It is a lady calling about a kitty that has been stuck for 17 days in her neighborhood. After a few questions, I realize that it is the same kitty! It seems that Aaron had not been contacted the first time or the message got lost. After hanging up with me, she calls Aaron who agrees to go out the next day. I also contact Aaron, and agree to meet him there after I do a rescue in Meridian the next morning.
The next day, the Meridian kitty climbs down before I leave town, so I cancel that rescue and head to Memphis. When I arrive, no one is home. Jason, a high school family member of 'Ramone' (stuck kitty), will get home from school at about 3:00. I notice a line of pine trees along the back fence, and a ladder leaning against one. I start scanning the tree tops, and spot Ramone two trees down from the ladder tree, hanging out at 80 feet at the tip-top. The wind is blowing at 10-15 MPH, making for some scary swaying of the tree top. I contact Ken, the kitty's owner, via text and he agrees to let me do the rescue (his previous contact had been with Aaron). There is a high wooden fence separating the back yard from the concrete drainage canal, and the trees are just outside the fence. If the cat falls, there is a good chance that he will hit concrete. So, I spend some time clearing brush around the tree and rig a tarp that covers part of the canal and the area around the tree. The tarp is tied to neighboring trees and to the fence across the canal. I contact Aaron and describe the situation. He has just finished up some tree work and will arrive in 30 minutes.
I set a rope at about 65 feet and don my gear. About this time, Aaron and his brother Taylor arrive. I am grateful for ground support as this looks like a tough rescue. I start up the rope and arrive at the tie-in point. Ramone actually climbs a little higher and is now precariously perched on some tiny limbs. I pull up my grab pole and net and prepare for the snare try. Aaron and Taylor hold a tarp below on the backyard side of the fence in case Ramone falls on that side. Jason arrives with some friends and all watch the cat-rescue-show. I raise the grab pole and begin trying to get the loop around Ramone. He yowls and moves around, trying to dodge the snare. It is difficult to see where the loop is located with the wind blowing us back and forth and tiny limbs blocking access, but I finally think that I have Ramone and I tighten the loop. The loop somehow slips off Ramone and he falls to a lower limb, where he regains his balance, and then jumps to a neighboring tree. He runs to the trunk, starts climbing up that tree a little ways, and then goes out on a limb. He is now about 30 feet lower and out on a small limb. I use my lanyard to traverse to the other tree. I clumsily drop my net during the traverse but Aaron is able to retrieve it for me, and I pull it back up. Jason and friends now hold sheets underneath Ramone's position as my tarp is no longer useful. I position myself above Ramone's position and prepare for another snare try with the grab pole. I could attempt a hand grab, but I am afraid going close to Ramone will make him jump. I lower the pole and carefully work the noose around Ramone. He yowls loudly but does not jump. I work the noose around his head and shoulders, and he eventually steps through the noose, allowing me to tighten it, securely grabbing him around the middle. I lift him off the limb and work him into the net, where I release the noose and pull the pole out of the net. Whew, Ramone is now in the net! It takes a while to untangle myself from the tree, but I eventually traverse back to the original tree and descend. Back on the ground, Jason takes Ramone inside for food and water.
After packing up, Jason reports that Ramone is eating and drinking. Jason takes some post rescue pictures with my iPhone, and the live views shows Ramone walking around as if nothing happened. Ramone is one tough cat to survive 17 days in a tree - I hope that he never climbs again!