Rescuing cranky cat from tree after 3 days? It's a head-scratcher

Shelley Weinberger had spent three days and nights listening to the pitiful meows of a cat, stuck more than 15 metres up a tree and unable to come down.

But as the Qu'Appelle, Sask., resident craned her neck to look at the scrawny black stray on Wednesday afternoon, she had a feeling that things would turn around yet.

"I'm actually feeling really hopeful," she said. "I think we're going to do it. I have no idea how, but I'm confident the cat's not going to spend another night in the tree."

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Weinberger had first heard the meows of a cat on Sunday evening outside her home but it wasn't until Tuesday before she found the source of the sound, a small black blob far up a tree.

"How do you ignore something like that?" said Weinberger, who describes herself as an animal lover with two cats of her own. "I just can't turn my head away."

Over the next day, she began posting pleas for help and before long there were community members stopping by to offer suggestions.

But what would be effective? Put a bright blanket down with food atop it? Set up scaffolding? Shake the tree and put out a net to catch it?

At that point, it was a head-scratcher. 

The town and fire department didn't have the right equipment to reach the cat, and an electric company that stopped by her house had a bucket lift that reached 12 metres high, still well short of the hungry and distressed animal.

Will rescue cats, in exchange for gas

Things were looking bleak for the stray until Jeromy Desjarlais saw a Facebook post asking people for help.

Desjarlais, owner of Jeromy's Moving and Delivery, handles tree removals and is a skilled climber. He offered to come out and help Weinberger, as long as she could pay for his gas to come from Regina, 53 kilometres away.

On Wednesday afternoon, once he looked up at the slender tree, he hitched up his shorts and gave a brief nod.

"Once I seen it, I knew it was a dangerous one but I knew I could do it."

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Desjarlais set up his 10-metre ladder against the slender tree, and moved to the top. From there, he climbed farther, snapping branches and harnessing himself to the tree along the way. When he was within an arm's reach of the cat, he held out a hand and waited.

The handful of onlookers below watched with bated breath, until the cat took a tentative step forward, closed the final distance, and went into Desjarlais' arms. Desjarlais made his way down gingerly, with a biting and clawing cat, to cheers.

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"I had to climb down with only one arm, and that wasn't fun," he said, looking down at the scratches on his chest and joking, "I'm glad I didn't put him in my shorts."

The cat will visit a vet for treatment, with Weinberger hopeful she can find it a permanent home.

She gave credit to Desjarlais for his "skill, courage and big heart" for the rescue.

"I think that really speaks to people wanting to do good, and come together, help each other out —and he really did."