Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Version of Save The Cat, In Which I Actually Save A Cat

A few weeks ago, I came home from my kids' swim team practice to the sound of a kitten crying. My kitten, OF COURSE. Somewhere in the neighborhood. It was dark. It was 10pm at night. The kitten's cries sounded scared and pitiful. I grabbed a flashlight, and hunted down my petrified kitty. She was two doors down, and two stories up. Crying in a tree.

I spent two hours--until midnight--trying to coax her down. Flashing my flashlight down the trunk of the tree, bringing out food, calling to her. She just couldn't figure it out. She cried to me, and walked down each branch, parallel to the ground. My heart sank. I waited for my neighbors to call the police on the hooligan waving the flashlight in the grove of trees behind their house. It became clear to me that short of climbing the tree, that kitten was not coming down. I reassured myself that cats are nocturnal creatures, and that she would be fine during the long night in the tree. Maybe she would come down to eat the food.

Her cries followed me home, and into bed. I couldn't sleep.

And, in the morning, she was still crying. Up in the tree. I won't lie. The term "dumb kitten" definitely escaped my lips. I was tired, and worried, and wondering. How long can a cat survive in a tree? I had never heard of one falling out out of a tree.

My neighbors were divided into the camps of call-the-fire-department, and she'll-come-down-on-her-own. I was of the idea that since I have small children, I might need the aid of the fire department in the future, and didn't relish pissing them off due to a dumb kitten. In fact, they had already come to my aid once. But that is another story, for another post. :)

And, anyway, I had a plan.

I attached a stick to a long rope, and asked my husband to throw it over the branch, much to the concern of the very nice Irish woman who came running out of her house to find out what we were doing to her trees. I was amazed that she hadn't seen me out there the night before, or so early that morning. Once she saw our beautiful, sad kitten, she became our biggest fan.

My husband successfully looped the rope over the branch, and I attached our cat carrier bag to the rope, with the top open. I threw some cat food in there for good measure. Hubby pulled the carrier up to the cat, and like magic, the cat stepped right in. We lowered it to the ground, and I grabbed the kitten out. Finally safe, back on the ground.

The writing lesson for this? Well, you might be stuck right now. Stuck on a scene, stuck in the middle, stuck because you've been writing fast and furious and climbing those branches through NaNo. Wondering whether to call the fire department, or just to wait it out. And my advice to you is that you already know the solution. Your subconscious is working it out. It might not be conventional. But go ahead and think about what tools you have at your disposal, and build that cat elevator for your novel. Save the dumb cat. :)

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures: (keep in mind that I was emotionally involved with saving the kitten, and the pictures I snapped off are pretty awful. :))

See her eyes up there? They haunted me all night long.

Pitifully, trying to walk along the branches to safety.

Amazingly, she climbed right into her cat carrier.

Jelly's personal elevator. :)
Safe (relatively speaking), in Superman's arms.
So, how do you save the cat?


  1. What a great story! I never would've thought to do that. She was pretty high up.

  2. Wow, ingenious idea! I probably would have sent one of my humanoid monkey's up the tree to rescue the kitty, but then there'a that 'child endangerment' phrase the police would keep throwing around.

  3. Oh Heather, I adore ya. Your blog title cracked me up, and I loved your post!! YAY to saving kitties!

  4. Wow, you are crafty! I don't know if I would have thought of a plan like that. Glad the kitten is safe and sound (if a little dumb). :-)

  5. Just shared this with Hubby, just in case we have to do this one day.

  6. Okay, that was brilliant. My cats HATE their carriers, but maybe not as much as sitting in a tree for days. But they're indoor former city dwelling softies, so they don't really like to leave the house, let alone climb anything and get their little claws dirty.

    I remember my dad rescuing our parakeet from the giant pine tree in our front yard after the little guy flew out the front door. Good ol' dad climbed all the way up, managed to get the bird on his hand, and then realized he didn't have a way down. So he stuffed the bird in his shirt for the climb back down.

  7. Aaaaawwwww! I'm so glad you got her down!!!

    And you're right. The subconscious is always working it out. Just give it time, and a solution will appear.

  8. Heather, you are brilliant. Not only in your storytelling, but in your cat saving abilities! It's also a little uncanny how much I could relate! To both having a stranded kitty in a tree and not wanting to call the fire department because once, when my son was a year old, I may or may not have called them for something...ummmm...really dumb. :)

  9. Genius!! You should patent the idea! My cat's not the brightest bulb, so we might have need of this technique one day. I'm calling you instead of the fire department. :)

  10. Laura--she was sooo high up! I had a terrible night wondering if she would fall. :) There was no way I was climbing up there.

    Magolla--My kids definitely talked about going up after her. I have one who probably could have made it. But you know...

    Marisa--LOL. What an adventure life is!!

    Anna--I bet you don't have these issue with your puppy! And she isn't as dumb as I thought she was--I figured I'd find her back in the tree the next night! She hasn't gotten stuck since then.

    Alicia--I'm so glad someone can benefit from this experience.

    Lily--We wanted this kitty to be an indoor cat, but she cries to be let out. Life would be much simpler if she just stayed indoors. :) I don't know what I would have done with a bird--I love the story of your dad climbing up there after it!

  11. Dianne--I LOVE my subconscious. It does the most amazing things!! LOL

    Vivi--I too have called the fire department (for something which resolved itself before they arrived, minutes later). I hope to never need them again! :)

    Nandini--if this happens to you, I will come right over. :)

  12. I loved this story. Your solution, via your subconscious was brilliant but not surprising, you solve those kids of problems for your characters and your story all the time! :)

  13. SUCH a GREAT story! Is there a video of this rescue?!