Dec
16
2009

  Rescuing Fenway At My Own Peril

We hadn't seen Fenway in several days, and he hadn't been eating his food we put out for him, so I was determined to find him today. Well, I was before I strained my back. But since I iced my back all morning and sat still, I felt better by lunchtime. So after I finished working on the taxes for the day I went out in search of the cat.

I tramped all over the back field and swale where he usually hangs out, but he wasn't there, so I just started making a big circle around the house calling for him until I heard a meow.

I eventually found him halfway up the dead catalpa tree at the bend in the driveway. I called to him for him to come down, but he wasn't going to budge. I thought maybe if I got closer he'd run down to me, so I went back to the house to get gloves and clippers.

I cleared away the underbrush enough to get right under the tree, but Fenway still didn't budge, although he was meowing quite a bit. I continued clearing and pulling vines off the tree until we could see each other clearly without extra branches and things in the way, but still he wouldn't come down. I was probably out there an hour, and I started getting worried since I saw a dark spot on his belly that I thought might be a wound. Also, he stopped meowing and just sat there looking at me sometimes but then closing his eyes. If he had been up there for several days it was possible he was too weak to run down the tree.

So while Terry continued to mind William, I carried a ladder out there, and climbed up to where Fenway was. I didn't send Terry for two reasons; I thought Fenway would freak out and run further up the tree if Terry came crashing through there with a ladder, and Terry isn't keen at all about climbing ladders. And although I cleared enough of the brush to put the ladder up against the trunk at the proper angle, it wasn't exactly a rock-solid location. When I realized Fenway was not even going to come down to the next lower crook in the tree, I prepared for a more complicated rescue.

I extended the ladder further, and tied the pieces together as added security so they wouldn't slip. Then when I got up to the top, I took the time to lash the ladder to the tree. I wrapped the rope around both sides independently and also several rungs. I knew I could not afford a wobbly ladder when I had a handful of possibly-injured cat.

Once the ladder was secure, I felt better about continuing to the top, where I could pet Fenway. That relaxed the cat quite a bit, and eventually he moved around to where I could pick him up with one hand. Actually, it was just where I could grab him by the scruff with one hand, the other I used to lift him up by the belly, but I had that arm wrapped around the tree so we wouldn't fall.

It was pretty tough to get Fenway off the tree. At one point I looked down and he had a 2" piece of bark still on his claw. I don't blame him, we were pretty high up and the way I was holding him he could see how far down he could fall. So it made sense to try to keep constant contact with his claws on the tree. But it did make it difficult for me to manage. The hardest part was getting the arm that was wrapped around the tree back to the front while holding the frantic Fenway against my body entirely with my left arm without falling. But I managed.

Once I got us both down on the ground, I could tell Fenway felt light. He probably had been up there a few days at least. I carried him into the house and Terry brought water, which he didn't drink and that worried me, but then when he brought in food the cat ate voraciously. I checked him all over for wounds, but the dark spot I saw was just dirt, and the spot where he was cut before on his side was fine, it just looked bad since his fur hadn't grown back from where I cut it to clean it a few weeks back.

Now I feel very weak. My right arm muscle hurts now, although I'm very glad my back is still fine. But I did wear myself out. Hopefully Terry won't be too mad about caring for William even more than he already has. But I really don't have the energy to carry the boy at all. At least Fenway is ok. We'll keep him in tonight, and I guess he'll try to be an outdoor cat again tomorrow. Idiot cat.