Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Flying Feline

One of the problems with traveling around the world is that things can happen at home that are totally out of your control, leaving you feeling helpless.  
No one in our neighborhood found it the least bit amusing. My daughter's cat with the unlikely name of Gus Gus was perched almost 100 feet (thirty meters) up in the fir tree next to our house. He was announcing his predicament to the world at large, or at least anyone within earshot (especially our extraordinary neighbors).  It was readily apparent that Gus Gus had quickly become more than a little unhappy about his improvident decision to flee up the tree away from whatever had been chasing him. Everyone assured my wife that the cat would come down on his own when his hunger eclipsed his fear. So, for the first day or two, my wife, daughter and neighbors patiently awaited the return of silence to our street. Of course, the endless yowling and crying all night long had a proportionate stressful effect on people depending on their proximity to our complaining cat. Our master bedroom was some 30 feet (ten meters) away from the drama.

Now, if I had been at home, instead of halfway around the world, I would have taken advantage of my hearing loss and removed my hearing aids at night, thereby enabling a much more restful sleep than my dear, long-suffering wife was able to get. The neighbors came by sometimes several times a day to check on the progress, or lack thereof, in saving Gus Gus. Of course, implicit in these encouraging visits was an increasing perception that the complaints of the cat were being echoed by our neighbors. As the days wore on, the guilt associated with "allowing" a very loud cat to be stuck up high in a tree for all to see and hear made for more sleepless nights and an increasing sense of helplessness.

It wasn't as if attempts have not been made to coax or cajole the kitty from the tree top, but nothing seemed to help. A friendly man with a truck-mounted extension ladder tried to help, but the ladder was not long enough. Attempts to Google a meaningful answer proved useless, if somewhat amusing, as the most ferocious debate seem to be between those who believed that cats always come down sooner or later, and those who believed that cats can die up in the tree as they cannot climb down the tree, only up. Of course, many suggestions were made (call the fire department, spread birdseed at the foot of the tree to attract birds to engage the cat's hunting instinct, etc.). However, it appeared that someone, somehow, had to climb up the very bushy tree to the very top in order to retrieve the bawling scaredy-cat. Several phone calls to companies offering bucket lifts with the necessary capability proved fruitless (or ridiculously expensive). By the eighth rainy day it had become apparent that the drenched and frightened Gus Gus was not going to come down on his own. He would either die up there and become a rather unfortunate testament to the fact that cats don't always come down from trees, or fall to his death from his airy perch in hunger and thirst. It further became obvious that the neighborhood’s goodwill had been tested enough as they had become exasperated with the endless howling.

After several calls to different tree topping companies, Don agreed to respond to the exasperated pleas of my sleep-deprived wife. Clearing limbs on the way up in order to permit him access to the top of the tree, he finally reached Gus Gus. While my neighbors and family members peered upwards, relieved that success was within reach, the cat did not seem to have the same sense of appreciation for being rescued. After numerous attempts to get a hold of Gus Gus and place him safely in a bag for transport to the ground it was apparent that the delusional cat would not go without a fight. Just when it seemed that the ferocious feline was about to surrender, Gus Gus scrambled even higher up the tree such that he resembled a rather scruffy looking feline angel clinging to the top of an undecorated Christmas tree.

Only one solution remained, as Don could not go higher. "Do you want me to top the tree?" he yelled down. "Hopefully the lower limbs will break his fall" followed, which seemed to be based more wishful thinking than experience. Completely out of any reasonable alternatives, permission was granted. As the top 10 feet of the tree toppled, Gus Gus flew spread-eagled from his last retreat like a flying squirrel. He cleared all branches until his trajectory landed him on the lowest branches of the tree, breaking his fall. No doubt wide-eyed after the circus acrobatics, a considerably skinnier Gus Gus took off to the shelter of the underbrush 50 yards/meters away. My daughter gave chase and soon returned with a purring, though somewhat sodden, cat. Obviously, the ordeal had not caused serious damage. Don must have found it entertaining as he charged less than he could have for his services. However, what if he pulls that traumatized tree climbing prank again? Any suggestions?


  1. Great,when you think positively the cat would not climb tree anymore.No worry about pulls that traumatized tree climbing prank again.

  2. Yikes!! Hope this doesn't happen again in the future! I couldn't predict whether or not cats would be smart enough to know to have the lower branches break the fall. He must have been one scared kitty. How old?

    -Tony Salmeron

  3. Dad,

    I miss you a lot. Gus-gus has been inside every day since the long and unforgettable fall from the tree. I slept with him his first night on the bathroom floor and nearly gave him a heart attack when I woke up. He's doing alright though very skinny.

    He's two years old. A friend who rescued him off the street gave him to me when I was living alone. This is not the first time he's been stuck somewhere, I might add. Not sure if you remember pulling him out of the engine area of your camaro?

    Love you Dad! Can't wait til you're home :)