Monday, January 12, 2009

Betty is safe!

Betty's claws were torn from her ordeal. Here she gets a soothing betadine soak.


Last night Betty got spooked and ran out our back door. She is an ex-feral and I've always been terrified that she'll get out and we'll never see her again. (She is very skittish, not to mention fast, and I almost always have a hard time catching her in the house when it's time for her dental rinse.) Ed chased her through the yard (for the first lap, he was running in his socks, and we have around a foot of snow on the ground) and when I got home I chased her too. I had my hands on her but she wriggled free and climbed up a tree. Every time we called to her she would climb higher.

We didn't know what to do so left a ladder against the tree and a trail of food into our open basement. We couldn't sleep so kept checking throughout the night, but no Betty. It was 20 degrees outside and I was sick with worry.

This morning I started calling around to see if we could get a tree-trimming place to come by with a bucket truck. I also called the Animal Rescue League of Boston -- they have a rescue service. I saw my neighbor from across the street and told her what happened. Her husband is a landscaper and called me right away. He said he's been involved in many cat rescues and that often the bucket truck just makes things worse because of the noise and the stranger in the bucket. So we were banking on the tree-climber from the ARL.

I was distraught and antsy because there was nothing to do but wait for the ARL guy. Kris came by to keep me company, reminding me of Elizabeth Zimmerman's admonishment to "knit through every crisis."

Around 3 p.m. Ed decided to make an attempt to climb the tree while we still had daylight. We fashioned a cargo strap into a swiss seat and found a (real) carabiner that I used to use to hold my keys. He ascended our 24-foot ladder and tied himself to the tree. Rachel came by to keep me company. Ed put Betty's bed and some food into a bucket on the end of a long pole to see if he could get her in there. No dice. Just then my neighbor John came to see how we were doing. He left to get more supplies from his landscaping business.

John came back with a climbing harness like the kind used by telephone workers. He coached Ed through everything. (Also, thank goodness for the day-long rock-climbing lesson we took in Acadia in 2006.) Ed climbed all the way to the top of the Canadian Hemlock where Betty was perched, 40 feet up. John would spot branches for Ed and let him know which ones would hold his weight, as well as keeping the rope taut so the tree wouldn't move too much. The tree was about 3" in diameter at the top where Ed and Betty were.

(At this point the ARL guy called, very apologetic, to say he was busy with another cat in a tree and also a coyote who got hit by a car, plus two other rescuers called in sick, so he couldn't come until tomorrow.)

Betty can't really meow under normal circumstances (long-term damage from the pneumonia she had as a feral) but she managed to make some surprising mewing sounds when Ed got close. She kept trying to move away but as soon as Ed got his hands on her she calmed down and grabbed onto his shoulder. We raised a bag and he put her in it and lowered it down. I ran with her into the house.

Then Ed climbed down. We thanked our neighbors profusely. Now we're all in the house. Rach is still here and my BIL is coming by with BBQ. Betty is fine. She has some nasty scratches on her nose and lost some claws. We cleaned her up and she gobbled up some food. Now she's pretty much acting like nothing happened. We will be triple-checking all doors from now on when we leave and enter. But I think she probably learned her lesson. This was one of the worst days of my life. I'm so glad it turned out okay.

And to my friends with kids: I salute you. I worried so much about Betty and she's not even a child. I am completely drained of energy. You all must have super-human worrying capacity.

A final thought: John and Teresa from across the street and Colin and Susan (our neighbors who own the Canadian Hemlock) were awesome. I should be more social. :)

The end.


Eugene said...

Good thing she's safe. Too distraught to grab a camera?

Reminds me of the time when I was 11 and one of the chickens they were selling off the truck escaped. I chased around a tree for about 5 mins until is ran out of steam and just sat down. Ah, the stamina of an 11-year-old.

Michele said...

Yes, too worried for a camera. It's too bad because Ed was a bad-ass up there.

Bob said...

Wow! Imagine what awesome parents you're going to be.

Paige said...

Tootie was so worried, she was praying for Betty all day. And at least we know Edward won't leave his kid up a tree. At least not for more than 24 hours. That bodes well....

Cathy said...

So glad that Betty came down safely! We (Oreo and I) were really worried, and could totally relate to what you were going through. I'm sure that Betty is happy to have such good parents ;)

rachel said...

Ed was such a bad ass. 40 feet in the air and not a second of hesitation. He put his left foot in an iffy spot once and I gasped; he said "its OK!" very thoughtfully and continued the near impossible task of unzipping a jacket, taking out a cat, sticking the cat in a bag, fastening it, and sending the bag down, all while attached to a tree/sapling 40 feet in the air.

lemmie said...

OMG - I'm so sorry. This sounds like such a stressful situation! I'm glad you all are ok and that Betty is recovering :)

claudia said...

Michele, I'm so glad Betty is OK. What a terrible day you guys had!

madalyn said...

So glad you guys got her down safe and sound, and both Betty and Ed are ok!!!

megA said...

oh Betty!!!!

Does this mean she gets a mani/pedi each day now?? And what's a dental rinse? My Little Man's overbite means he has bad teeth. . .

I'm so glad your girl is okay--Ed is a badass. Neither JD or I can even clean gutters on the ladder!

Happy days with cats and husbands safe and warm in the house again!!!!!



mimsie said...

Awww... poor Betty. Ed is a hero! Also, stupid bloglines not updating your blog for me anymore, booo.