Even to their most devoted owners, cats remain a mystery. Independent, indifferent, able to simultaneously frustrate, endear and, as we saw again today, incite fear and embarrassment.
Meira is a long hair black cat, loved by her owner and his girlfriend, Rachel Story, who when we met her Tuesday was deathly afraid for Meira's life.
She had been a good 40 feet up in this elm tree for four days. Nothing it seems could coax her down on her own.
"We tried calling her a lot," says Story. "We tied a laundry basket with food in it up to the tree hoping she would jump into it. Animal control wouldn't help us, the fire department, the police..."
So, she turned to Facebook, posting her dilemma, asking for help. Someone suggested the only human beings comfortable that far above the ground in a tree.
Reno Tree Service to the rescue.
It turns out they've done this sort of thing before.
"This is our 11th cat," said Kristy McKay, who quickly added they/d been in business in Reno for 28 years.
Veterans, perhaps, but it's not like it's something they practice every day.
And, apparently, it's something the designated rescuer has never done before.
Dan Hardy's first rescue wasn't going to be easy.
It seemed he might be able to use the company's aerial bucket to get to Meira.
He can't get the bucket close enough, but the effort scares Meira further down the tree.
There's a ladder in the backyard. Photographer Sholeh Moll gives it a try,but It's far short.
Time for me to do my part.
I live nearby and figure my ladder will reach the cat. I retrieve it from my backyard.
Nearly fully extended it reaches to a crook in the tree where Meira is peering down at our efforts,
With a healthy respect for heights and a wary eye on my shaky ladder, I'll leave the rest to Dan Hardy.
He has my respect. This is a man who will fearlessly scamper up a sixty foot cottonwood. He admits he'd rather do that any day than deal with my ladder.
Gingerly he ascends, pausing at the top to tie himself off to the tree. Then after a lot of coaxing and a failed attempt to put Meira into a pillow case, he clutches her and carries her to safety.
"She was purring," he says. "She was actually pretty good. It surprised me."
Story takes Meira and hugging her takes her home next door, where she says, she devoured a can of cat food immediately.
And so the central figure in this drama goes home, showing no guilt or embarrassment, happy to pickup life where she left it four days ago.
"She's lost some weight," says Story, "but I think she's relieved to be down."
Everyone else can finally relax as well.
"I thought she was doing to die up there," says Story.
"I didn't get scratched. I didn't drop the cat," says Hardy, now a veteran cat rescuer. "Everything went well."
"We just winged it and everything worked out great," adds McKay.
The next door neighbor who watched all this unfold says her cat has done the same thing twice before. "They always come down on their own," she remarks.
They usually do, but experts (and you can find plenty of advice on line) say after a couple of days, a cat can weaken and it may be time to act.
If all else fails, the advice goes, an arborist may be your best choice.
It was this day.
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