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"Howard Gaffin is an expert in his field. He is a top notch arborist and is also willing to listen to the land-owner's desires and is able to cooperate to achieve mutually satisfactory results."

N. Grigg
- Boxford, MA

Monday
Apr042011

Cat Rescues: What Goes Up...

Originally published in TCIA Magazine

The call came in the evening. Cat in a tree, can you come get her down? So on a fine Sunday morning, with a fresh 4 inches of snow against an azure sky, I headed out to Gloucester, Massachusetts, to see if I could remove Milo from a maple.

When I arrived at the site, an entourage awaited – Sandy, from the local feline res- cue, along with the cat’s owner, several neighbors and two photographers – were in attendance. Great. Visions of dropping kitty out of the tree ensue. A YouTube viral hit.

Most people have no idea who to call for a cat rescue. Gone are the days when the fire department took the call. Sandy got my name from Dan Kraus’s fine website, www.catinatreerescue.com. Kraus, a champion climber, is the cat rescue master.

He has rescued more than 700 cats in a locale where the tallest trees grow, Washington state. Kraus realized long ago that arborists are the most qualified people to perform this service, if folks only knew how to find us. I encourage you to join his website and become part of a national reg- ister of feline liberators.

Milo was about 45 feet up a Norway maple. A fairly easy climb, with the added bonus of a neighbor’s 24-foot, ice encrust- ed ladder already set against the tree. I set my lines and ascended. Milo was a young cat and had been in the tree for two nights. He was very glad to see me and went into the bag with no trouble. I descended and presented Milo to his owner. Applause, laughter, good feelings all around. I have been in business for more than 30 years; you will not find a person more grateful for your skills than a rescued pet’s owner.

While not a huge feline fan at the time, my first cat rescue ended up as a co-habi- tant. Mao went on to become a fine tree climber, who was able to belay herself without any assistance. I have rescued dozens of cats since then, and have learned a few things:

  • Cat’s have no trouble with up. It’s down that’s the issue. They must travel in reverse, and inexperienced cats are most reluctant to do this.
  • Although I have found no reports of cat skeletons in trees, I am sure that they can and do die up there. I have rescued cats that were firmly wedged in crotches and too weak to get out.
  • Unless extreme weather is a threat, it is best to leave them in the tree for a few days and see if they will come down on they’re own. They are less likely to climb further away from you when they are weak and hungry. Most cats will be glad to see you after a few days.
  • Bring a lightweight, enclosable con- tainer for the cat that you can attach to your belt. I use a Weaver rope bag that unfolds to a 5-gallon bucket with a solid bottom.
  • Position yourself to be able to use both hands. Grab the cat deliberately by the scruff of the neck and quickly deposit it into the container.

Everyone soon dispersed. I packed up my gear and Sandy helped me load it into my car, where she compensated me for my services. I charge a nominal fee, which everyone has been more than happy to pay. All was well with the world. A successful rescue, grateful cat owners, a story in the local rag, and cash in my pocket. Now if only I can find the car keys.

 

 

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