Column sparked memory of cat-in-tree incident

I couldn't help reply back to you regarding your article in our Gresham Outlook, March 1, about your son's cat Max being up in a tree, and the comment you made to him about the fire department not rescuing cats from trees.

This is a true story that happened to our family about 30 years ago here in Gresham; we had lived here about two years at the time.

We had a very young cat named, Tiger (from Winnie the Pooh), and he was 'adventurous.' We aren't sure, but we think a dog was chasing Tiger and he ran up our neighbors' fir tree, a very large tree, in their front yard. They lived right next door to us.

It was later in the day when I was looking out our living room window and noticed something orange and fury on the limb of our neighbors' tree. It was Tiger!

We thought he would come down when he got hungry or had to go relieve himself - but he didn't. We tried coaxing him down with food and water, but he just kept 'meowing' and staying put.

By the next day, he was still there and the fact that we could view him from our living room window didn't help the matter any. I was becoming anxious and worried that Tiger would become dehydrated or starve to death if he didn't come down soon. Our son was about 7 years old at the time, and he was adding tension to the situation wanting his cat down out of that tree.

After about five days, yes five days, my husband decided that he had enough of my whining and our son's pleading, so he decided to get out his extension ladder and try to be a hero and rescue the darn cat.

Tiger was pretty high up and when he saw that ladder coming up at him, he went even higher up that tree. He was completely out of reach now for my husband to rescue him.

Now, I don't know whose idea this was, but my husband (being a fisherman) got out his salmon net with a very, very long handle. The 'idea' was to climb the ladder, then reach further up using the net and drop the net over the cat. The cat was supposed to fall into the net so my husband could finally bring him down. (Sounds so simple doesn't it!) Well, it didn't quite work out that way.

Everything was going fine, the net went over the cat and the cat fell into the net, but then the net got caught on some small branches way up in the tree. The cat was terrified by now and trying to get free from that net and getting hopelessly tangled up. Now both the cat and the net were stuck way up in the tree. You really had to be there to fully appreciate the scene. (I wish I had taken a picture.) I was too upset to even think it was funny at the time, not to mention how my husband felt about his precious net; he wasn't worried about the cat now.

The only thing left to do was to call the Gresham fire department, which at the time was up on 223rd off Stark Street. I tried to explain the 'situation' and hoped they would believe me.

After a few minutes, the fire chief arrived in his car, got out and looked up into the fir tree and just stood there. (I can only imagine what he was thinking.) Then, he got on his walkie-talkie and he said, and I quote, 'Engine 9, you better get down here.' The fire truck came up our street, no siren or lights at least, thank God, and parked out front.

Those firemen were so nice, they may have been thinking bad thoughts about what we had done, but they didn't say a word. They used their ladder and ropes and somehow managed to get up there and get the net lose. By then we had one mad cat. We had a hard time getting him out of the net without being mauled to death. We put Tiger in the garage and shut the door quickly to let him calm down.

Just then, our neighbors, whose tree our cat had been in, came driving home from work. It was about 5:30 p.m. and still light outside, and as they drove up our street from about two blocks away they could see the fire engine parked in front of their house. Of course they thought their house had been on fire, what else?

Anyway, it all ended well. A few days later, our son drew a picture of Tiger in the tree with the firemen rescuing him, and he also wrote a long 'thank you' to go with it, and we mailed it to the Gresham fire department. I hope they enjoyed our son's picture. I bet they won't forget that rescue for a very long time. They would never have come if we hadn't complicated the situation like we did.

I just had to share this story with you. It sure brought back some memories. Tiger never did climb any more trees after that - not that we know of anyway.

Charlotte Freeman


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