Friday, July 14, 2006


I get asked often when people learn I am a firefighter about whether or not I have to get cats out of trees. I usually jokingly reply that we just open up the handline and 100psi at the nozzle knocks them out of the tree every time. Another firefighter replies with, "We don't pull cats out of trees -- have you ever seen cat bones up in a tree?"

Today we got called out for a cat who was stranded on the roof of a multiple story home. He had apparently climbed one of the nearby trees and somehow made his way onto the roof via a branch.

Officially, that is a "code 54", animal rescue. I was a firefighter in the Air Force before joining the department here in town, but never once got called out for anything like this.

When we pulled up, the little girl who the cat belonged to was crying. I also noticed that quite a crowd had gathered to watch the proceedings. We laddered the building, and the three of us pulled the ladder up onto the roof to access the second level (where the cat was). Though I am allergic to cats, I am the new guy, so there really was no choice about who was going up to get the cat. The owner supplied us with a crate to put the cat into, and I was on my way.

In case you haven't guessed by now, Alex was the cat's name. He was an orange cat, and reminded me of Morris from the old Nine Lives commercials, except much smaller. Morris should have laid off the cat chow a little bit, in my opinion.

I climbed up to the edge of the second roof and he seemed delighted to see me. I opened up the crate and he threw caution to the wind, walking directly toward me, stopping just out of my reach. I leaned forward to assure him with a friendly rub behind the ear. He made his way closer and was rubbing himself against the doorway of the crate when I gave him a gentle shove from behind, tucking his tail inside and latching the door. I then brought him down, and handed him to the lady at the bottom of the ladder on the ground.

She was from the Humane Society.

Apparently, there is a leash law in the city, and this cat also hadn't had its rabies vaccination. So, without even letting the child hold or even look at her cat, they took it away. They explained that the owners could pick up the cat after "paying their fines".

Don't get me wrong... I am all for a healthy pet population. I fully believe in heartworm prevention, rabies vaccinations, and like my man Bob Barker, I believe that all pets should be spayed or neutered (this one wasn't). I wouldn't personally own a cat. At the same time, the whole thing just struck me as pretty heartless. This was a little girl's pet. How about letting someone off with a warning?

Alex, I hope that your owners can afford to come and get you soon.