Next to our house stands a huge grandfather oak. Sadly, this
hundred year old tree has died. When we moved here almost a decade ago we had no
idea that the english ivy growing on that tree would choke the life out of it.
if we'd known, we would have removed it.
Over the Christmas holidays we had
winter storms which delivered high winds, rain, sleet and snow. The snow lasted
for 10 long days.
On Day One, during the late afternoon we heard a cat crying
but couldn't tell which one it was or where the crying was coming from. We
finally figured out that it was our two year old Presley. We couldn't see him
but we could hear him and we know his voice. He's a B&W Tuxedo Kitty that
had apparently climbed through the pseudo-jungle of english ivy to make his way
up into the Grandfather Oak. Every evening dozens of little tiny birds flutter
around the upper branches of this huge tree. They nest there overnight hidden
inside the ivy. This was the motivation for Presley to work so hard to climb
this particular tree. We called to him but he wouldn't come down. We thought
he'd stalk the birds and come down later.
On Day Two, we called to him and he called back. We thought
when he gets hungry, he'd come down. We promised him a treat if he'd come down
but he didn't. We told him that storms were coming and that he needed to get out
of that tree.
On Day Three, we called to him and he called back. We still
had not seen him but had a fairly good idea which part of the tree he was in. It
was fairly high off the ground. We thought that when he gets thirsty, he'd come
down but so far he hadn't. We were getting very worried by this time and the
evening low temp was predicted to be 18 degrees. It snowed all night.
On Day Four, it snowed all day long. We called to Presley and
he called back like before except now his voice sounded all panicky. We went to
get a ladder. A 15 ft. ladder only reached to the first fork in the tree. we cut
back the ivy up that far and stood in between the V-shaped juncture in the tree
trunk. The huge limbs from there didn't go out but instead when mostly straight
up and down. But at least we did finally see presley for the first time. He was
up between another V-shaped fork in the tree. He was at least another 15 feet
higher up than where we stood. There was snow falling and high winds blowing. It
was not a good day to be up in a tree. At this point we decided that Presley
would not come down from the tree. It was hard to let the day turn to night and
go into the house knowing that it would be another below freezing night.
On Day Five, we knew that time was not on our side. When we
went to call to Presley, he sounded weaker and more worried. We went up the 15
ft. ladder and put another ladder 8 ft long up toward the area we'd seen Presley
the day before. It was still too short. We put a 16 ft. long 2x4 up to another
fork in the branches. We begged Presley to come down. He did try to make his way
down but struggled through the vines. Finally he worked his way to the board but
he could not climb down the 2x4. It was obvious that he wanted down but just
couldn't find a way to get down. We tried and tried but we couldn't figure out
how to get Presley out of this tree. We thought, "would he be able to survive
another freezing night?"
On Day Six, we called to Presley and he didn't answer back. We
couldn't see him. We couldn't hear him. Our hearts sank, but we kept calling and
calling. Finally he answered, but in a very quiet voice. He sounded even weaker
than the day before. We just knew that he couldn't survive much longer and were
desperate enough to look for help. I called the local electric company and spoke
with a supervisor. I begged for help and told them we'd pay a fee for them to
help us save Presley. He said, he'd check and see where the closest bucket
truck was located and try to send one out that afternoon. That made us feel
better. Knowing help was on the way did give us a sense of relief from the
stress and the feeling of helplessness. We told Presley to just hang on because
help was on the way. We waited. We waited and no-one came. It got dark. We
thought that, if he was still alive at that point, that the end was near. The
thought of him freezing to death made for a sleepless night.
On Day Seven, we called to Presley and amazingly enough we
heard his slow anxious meow. We started the day by calling the local volunteer
fire department. They said maybe but had to get it okayed by their supervisors.
We waited. No one called. We knew we'd run out of time so we didn't wait to see
if help was on the way. We called electric repair companies that have the
necessary equipment, we called tree cutting companies that have the necessary
equipment. Some were closed due to the holidays, some were seasonal workers,
some were shut down, some said that they wouldn't brave this weather to get a
cat out of a tree for any price. One even said, "stupid cat....leave him there".
The more desperate you get, the more your mind spins. Finally we located a
equipment rental company. They listened to our story and they said they had a 40
foot Boom Lift for $200 a day plus $45 delivery & $45 pick up charge. I
asked the man if they could waive the pick up charge since we'd only need the
machine for a few minutes. He said he couldn't authorize that and let me speak
to the owner. The owner was very nice and agreed to do so. Much to our surprise,
the owner was the one that delivered the machine. He unloaded the boom lift from
the trailer and asked who was going up. I said I would. I asked him if he was
going up to operate the machine. He offered me a safety harness, which I
declined. We went up, up and away. He positioned the boom lift to take me right
up to where Presley quietly waited approximately 35 feet off the ground. About
half way up, John told me that he doesn't like heights. It never occurred to me
to ask since I luv heights and would have liked to taken some photos of the
pasture from up there but we were on a urgent mission. At 1:30 pm on Friday afternoon I grabbed Presley and he hung on with his back claws, John reached over and helped free him from the vines so I could stuff Presley in my jacket for the ride down. We were so so relieved to have presley out of the grandfather oak.
Presley was cold, wet and shivering. Once he was dry and warm and had had his fill of food and water he was okay. After a couple of days in the house, he was back to his old self and ready to go back out to be a ranch cat along with his other friends and feline family.
This year, all we wanted for christmas was to get Presley out of that tree.
To have him back on terra firma safe and sound was exactly what we'd wished for
for 7 long days. That was the best christmas gift ever !!!!