TreeCat Rescue Report: George
What: Stuck in a Love Oak tree for 4 days
Where: Gainesville, FL
Rescue Date: 4.30 - 5.1.13
Rescue Climber: Danny Lyons
Jason called me Tuesday morning to tell me George, his orange longhaired cat, was stuck in a neighbor’s huge, sprawling Live oak. Up to that point, George was in the treetop for about two days, about 50 feet from the ground.
When I arrived, George was positioned far out on a 60 foot-long limb that grows gradually upward and well into the other neighbor’s backyard. He was hanging onto the small, leafy limbs that were reaching for the western sky. I was concerned because he was a only about 10 feet above and 10-15 feet past a big stack of electrical wires that ran along the fenced property line. Too close for comfort.
George was meowing, which is always a good sign when beginning a TreeCat rescue. I immediately placed a climbing line in the tree and climbed up to the limb, but I was still about 30 feet away from George’s position. Four huge electrical cables also separated George and me. Obviously, I needed him to walk toward me.
After a few minutes, I was well positioned about 15 feet from the wires. But George didn’t like the rope placement activity so he crept further away from me. He went out to the very edge of the limb where he almost fell because the branches there are so small they’re barely able to hold his weight.
Jason’s wife Whitney was calling George and trying to convince him to come back down. He was responding to her really well with lots of meows, but it seemed he only wanted to hunker down, mentally and physically. He looked fatigued.
I stayed in the tree for a long while, hoping George would come down. But he wasn’t budging from his perch. We decided to let George spend the night in the tree. It would give Jason and Whitney time to get permission from the other neighbors to let me climb the tree on their property, if necessary.
It was time to pack it up for the day. It rarely happens, but it’s always difficult to leave with a TreeCat still stuck in the tree.
Jason called Wednesday morning. George was in virtually the same place. But the friendly neighbors granted the permission we needed. When I arrived in the yard, George was meowing and still way out on the limb.
We had a game plan. In case George fell, Jason and Whitney came equipped with a blanket to catch George, old-school Fireman-style. I would put up the climbing line in the small branches and shake George out of the tree, one way or another. Or if he hung on and stayed put, I would climb after him. We all put on helmets. I readied the Big Shot.
I knew from my first visit that George feared the tag line and the throw weight activity. This was my secret tactic. However, my top priority was to avoid hitting the power lines with the throw bag and tag line, as they were only 5-10 feet from my target. No doubt, this is the closest I’ve ever worked next to any power lines. I let the Big Shot rip and it sailed perfectly near George. I caught the line and pulled the weight out of its trajectory down just before it made contact with the wires. The tag line was now set.
George began howling and meowing loudly because of the activity. I pulled up my climbing line as fast as possible. As soon as my rope was installed, I started to frantically pull and jump on the line. George was now on the move down the long branch, toward the trunk of the tree in the other yard. I was creating a virtual hurricane in the canopy and this was motivating George to keep mobilizing down the huge branch to the main leader. Jason jumped over the fence, as I continued the scare tactics with my rope. George ran down to Jason and jumped the last 5 feet to the ground.
Just as George tried to run out of the yard, Jason grabbed him and held him until he calmed down. After a brief celebration, Whitney carried George home.
Jason and Whitney are thrilled that George is finally home safe after his 3-day tree-climbing misadventure. Later that day, Jason said that George was doing very well. He ate food, drank water, crawled into their bed and crashed out.
Jason had to hop the fence to grab George after he ran down the long branch to the ground. He almost got away, but Jason was too quick for George..
The handoff over the fence.
Whitney happy to have George back on the ground safely.