Yes, this happened to me. It was last summer when I let Rocket go outdoors for the summer. The events leading up to it aren't really part of the story, but if you want to know why he was out, the reasons are in a series of posts I wrote called "The Little Gray Cat Journal" and you can search for that. I'll reproduce part of it here to tell Rocket's part of the story:
Rocket has gone missing. He stayed out last night and didnâ€™t show up for breakfast this morning. Itâ€™s not like Rocket to miss a free meal. And my own appetite went missing as well as my motivation and concentration to get anything else done today. All the usual first steps have been taken. For now, itâ€™s my job to wait. A job Iâ€™ve never been able to do well. I spend too much time glancing out the window. Out of the corner of my eye I catch movement on the lawn and go to the window. But itâ€™s a squirrel, and no squirrel would be on the lawn if Rocket was here.
I understand sometimes cats will just be gone for a while and then come back. Rocket is a big boy; heâ€™s got his claws and he hunts well. Barring a run-in with a car, a trap, or a poisoned mouse, he should be all right. But if heâ€™s sick or injured, he probably went into hiding, and there are literally thousands and thousands of places he could hide just in the immediate vicinity. Finding him would be sheer luck. Yet, I must try, anyway. I know and understand all the risks. Yet, when I get hit with one of them, itâ€™s hard to accept.
This morning while walking the neighborhood I hear a familiar meow. Thereâ€™s my neighbor from two houses down out in the driveway standing on top of a rickety ladder below one of his trees. I quickly walk up the drive. â€œDo you have a cat up in the tree?â€ â€œIs it an orange tabby cat?â€ Thereâ€™s Rocket on a branch about 15 feet up, meowing his little heart out. I ask the neighbors to make themselves scarce because theyâ€™re just scaring Rocket. I try to coax him down with soothing words and his treat ball. He looks like he wants to come down, but doesnâ€™t know what to do. I move to the other side of the tree, to shake the treat ball over there, trying to get him turned around. He turns around, but is looking at another branch. I think he wants to jump. Not a good idea.
I get the neighborâ€™s permission to bring my extension ladder. Not an easy thing to do, as heâ€™s concerned about liability. I just want my cat. I go home, get the ladder, and return as rapidly as possible. Rocketâ€™s still there. Still meowing. I extend the ladder to the maximum safe length, carefully place it against the tree, and cautiously climb up. Itâ€™s just long enough. Now that Iâ€™m sure of my footing, itâ€™s no longer time for caution, itâ€™s time for action, before Rocket decides to act first. I scruff him with the fullest and hardest possible scruff I can scruff, not too concerned about hurting him, and drag him off the branch, momentarily letting go of the ladder to unstick his hind feet, and then sling him over my left shoulder, where he attaches himself firmly to me. I donâ€™t care. Let the blood run. I have my cat.
As we climb down the ladder he stops meowing and I can feel his claws retract as we touch the ground, then all the way home I can feel him relaxing. I transfer him to a frontal hold, and itâ€™s with great joy shared between us we enter the house. Rocket first gets a meal and then a litterbox. Iâ€™m concerned about the moan he gives when he relieves himself. I hope itâ€™s a moan of relief and not of pain. Heâ€™s been up in that tree for possibly as long as a day and a night. (Later a call to the vet convinces me to just watch him for awhile.)
We sit on the stairs, Rocket cuddled tightly in my arms, sharing our happiness at being together again. He has his little arms around me, too. Then he starts falling asleep. Well, of course, heâ€™s been awake the entire time heâ€™s been up in the tree. So I transfer him to a soft, snuggy place where he proceeds to sleep for six hours straight.
And fire departments do not rescue cats any more. What the above narrative doesn't tell is the negotiations I had to have with my neighbor in order to allow me to get Rocket out of his tree. He was concerned about his liability, should I fall and break my neck. He said he was going to call 911 and get the fire department to come out. He had his cell phone in his hand and his thumb on the buttons while we were talking. Sheesh, was a nervous type. Finally I convinced him that nobody was going to get my cat out of his tree except me, and that if he wanted his cat out of the tree, he's have to let me bring a ladder on his property and climb up his tree, and that if I hurt myself, I wasn't going to sue him. For crying out loud, it wasn't HIS fault Rocket was up there. And yet, rather than letting me get up there on a decent ladder he was trying to get Rocket down standing on top of a rickety old step ladder not half long enough for the job. Even the extension ladder I brought over was just barely long enough, and he wasn't that high up. You just don't realize how high up it is when a cat gets stuck up in a tree.
And I still wonder if he would eventually have come down on his own.