Sunday, May 15, 2005

Out on a Limb

Allow me to introduce you to Alex. He’s the first cat who has owned me. Generally, I’ve owned dogs.

Alex is a teenager (I think) in cat years: he’s seventeen months old. It has only been for the past month or so that I have allowed Alex out-of-doors on his own. He now loves the sun and fresh air and just about everything outside except rain. Alex has an aversion to water in any and every form.

Alex has also made quite a few friends since he has been catting about the back yards of the neighborhood. During one of his first expeditions, he refused who come back into the house when I went out for the evening. So I left him sitting on the fence between my house and my neighbor on the left. (Alex never sits on the fence between my house and the neighbor on the right: that guy own two, very big dogs).

I returned from my evening out at about 1:00 a.m. I expected Alex to greet me on the walkway between the garage and my house with his normal meows of welcome. But he wasn’t there. I though he had perhaps already enter the house via the old coal chute into the basement that was his usual means of clandestine entry. But he wasn’t in the house.

I went back out on my deck and, before I could call his name, I heard his meows. He sounded close, but I couldn’t see him. He also sounded frightened. I picked up a flashlight and began searching for him. He wasn’t in the yard. He wasn’t under the deck.

I kept calling to him and attempting to follow his responding cries. I went back through the garage and into the alley behind it. I only found Alex when I noticed his eyes reflecting the moonlight about 30 feet above me. Directing the flashlight up, I saw my teenage cat sitting on the edge of a limb across the alley from my garage.

Problem: How to get the cat down! I stood beneath the tree and called to him. He wouldn’t move, but his meowing became more intense. I directed the beam of my flashlight toward him and slowly moved it along the limb toward the trunk of the tree. Alex followed the light and was soon at the trunk of the tree. But that’s as far as he would go; he refused to leave the limb for the trunk. Worse than that, my young explorer traced his steps and ended up back on the edge of the limb.

We repeated this tree limb dance numerous times over the next three hours. We repeated the ballet exactly, step for step. By 4:00 a.m. I was too tired to go on. I told Alex I was going to bed and would be back when the sun rose. Alex didn’t seem too pleased with that plan and his meows followed me all the way back to the house.

At sun rise I returned to the tree and to Alex. I again coaxed him toward the trunk and again he went to the trunk—and the back out on that damned limb! This went on for about thirty minutes. Then, suddenly, Alex reached downward with his paw. I said encouraging words to him and he climbed on the trunk, head downward, claws gripping the tree. Slowly he went down, a bit at a time. When he had come down about ten feet, he leaped from the tree trunk to the roof of my neighbor’s garage, then to the top of the fence attached to the garage, and then into my outstretched arms. I hugged by adolescent adventurer.

Then I heard the applause. It was coming from a woman in the backyard of another house. She called congratulations to Alex and me and said that she had been watching our drama but never thought that I would be able to talk him down. And I admit that I was quite proud of my talking Alex down.

Very proud—until I noticed sitting on the roof the garage that Alex had leaped on from the tree trunk another cat. I don’t know how long that big, yellow feline had been sitting there. I do wonder if I really talked Alex off the tree limb all by myself. Perhaps I had another coach helping?


  1. Awww. Well, he came straight to you so I think you deserve the credit.

  2. Hey Nick! Happy 1000th post!

    I loved this cat (tail)! and could totally relate. Our cats don't go out, but when we lived above the garage of a Century home in a small town in Southern Ontario, our landlady's cat, Bella - a beautiful black feline- got herself trapped in the tree out front and I volunteered to get her down. Perched precariously on a teetery ladder on a gravel driveway; no one was spotting me. I was holding on to a tree branch at one point and somehow managed to grab Bella by her scruff and drag her (albeit unwillingly) off the branch. We made it down the ladder without toppling and I handed her back to my landlady (who couldn't watch).
    Cats are so darn stubborn, aren't they?

    Congrats again!


  3. This is a wonderful story. I can understand how Alex won the hearts of your readers from his first appearance.