ROCKPORT — Craig Mitchell, the self-employed owner of Rockport Landscape and Design, was at home last week watching his kids and browsing Facebook when a message popped up on an online message board that a cat was stuck about 50-feet up a tree. The owner didn’t think there was any way the cat would come down on her own. She called animal control. No dice. Everyone on the message board told her the cat would come down on its own. But, the nights were starting to get cold.
“I knew it had been up there 48 hours and wasn’t going to come down on its own safely,” said Mitchell. A licensed arborist, he asked if he could help. The owner gratefully accepted and offered to pay him, but Mitchell declined.
“I have animals myself and I just knew she needed assistance,” he said.
With his assistant, Michael Hughes, Mitchell went to the woman’s house with a 24-foot ladder and his tree climbing harness and rope. While he had climbed many trees, he had never rescued a cat. This was going to be tricky.
“I asked first if this was an aggressive cat or not,” he said. “Forty-eight hours up there, you never know.”
Luckily, the answer was no. Mitzi was a good cat, not too bright when it came to tree sitting, but otherwise, well behaved.
“So I climbed the ladder and set myself up with the rope and harness,” he said. “Once I got off the ladder, I just kept resetting the rope and climbing up about another 25 feet.”
Mitchell eventually got within 5 feet of Mitzi, who was huddled on a branch. “Me and the cat spent a little time getting to know each other,” he said.
Once he had Mitzi firmly in his grasp, Mitchell had to keep re-positioning the rope one handed, and lower himself slowly all the way down.
When he got within 20 feet of the ground, Mitzi began to have second thoughts, or sensed how close she was to the ground and was thinking about making a jump for it.
“She tried struggling a bit,” said Mitchell. “But I got her calmed down.”
Once the Mitzi’s paws really did touch ground, she ran straight to her front door.
“She was done with the outside,” he said.
And there you have it. A man with a harness, a Facebook account and a willingness to brave the potential of slashing claws 50 feet up in the air is a good neighbor to have, indeed.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org