Posted by: deadmousediaries | June 26, 2014

News from the Path Valley Hotel: Episode #65 – Skeleton in the Hemlock

One of the eternal charms of our little Path Valley Hotel is that nearly everything is authentic to a homey retreat in the woods. You could translate that as rustic. You could also say it’s old. We have our share of closet creaks, the patter of rain in places where there shouldn’t be patter and now, a screened-in porch that is more screened-out.

The carpenter bees and the June bugs have already mapped their routes into the porch with the precision of an air traffic controller. But this story is about what got off the porch.

My tiny house cat, the adorable little waif who used to drape herself across my keyboard during every writing assignment, still weighs less than five pounds but now rules the roost in terms of presumptuous bad attitude. She is in fact, the poster cat for cat haters everywhere. She never purrs and never uses her powers for good, only evil.IMAG0465

One of her annoying habits is using her ninja skills to weave her way through the dogs’ legs to finagle her way onto the back porch. I was running late for an appointment on a recent early morning and was, as my daughter often says, all outtta’ nice when the cat slithered out the back door.  Fine! You can just stay outside today, I remember thinking. I pulled out of the driveway while her little cat face was pressed up against the porch screen with a look of incredulity.


My daughter sent a text six hours later: Cat’s goneVisions of coyotes and red fox dining on a rack of little cat ribs put me in high gear when I got home. A sad little meow emanated from somewhere near the porch. There wasn’t any sign of her but the cry was reassuring she hadn’t yet been on the menu.


We couldn’t quite follow the sound; it seemed to come from every direction until one of us decided to look up. There, balanced on the spindly top branches of my hemlock tree sat my little hairball; it was clear she had no intentions of coming down on her own. The afternoon was warm and sunny so we gave up our pathetic entreaties for a while and went inside. Two hours ticked by. I went out with the treat bag, then the tuna can. I had no tricks left. I decided then it was probably best that she didn’t make a racket lest she attract unwanted attention and be turned into owl pellets by morning.


The next day I called my vet thinking she was would tell me that my cat would come down when she got hungry. No such reassurance. It appears that cats do sometimes get themselves into that kind of predicament with no exit strategy whatsoever. She advised me to call the fire department. Really? I thought that only happened in old 60s TV shows and first grade story books.


Here’s what I learned. Fire companies do get calls about this kind of thing often enough that they won’t treat you like a crazy cat lady if you call (at least not while you’re on the phone with them). I had estimated that my cat was 50 feet above ground which it turns out, is too tall for any of the fire company ladders in this end of county.


“It’s funny you’re calling now,” said John of the first volunteer fire company that answered my call. “We were just saying that we have never found a cat skeleton in a tree.” Well, yeah. I’m a country girl. I know why that is and there are three reasons: owls, hawks and eagles.


By Thursday night, we were into a second day of this catastrophe and facing the first major summer storm of the season. When the skies turned dark and the winds began to blow, her little cat calls turned into full blown caterwauling, a strident and genuine cat scream for help. I stood in the pelting rain until I started to shiver, pleading as I watched her swaying in the topmost branches. The rain continued into Friday. 


When I stepped outside Friday morning, I watched a hawk circling my rooftop. I was afraid to call her but she let out a little cry. I don’t know how she survived the night but by Fiday afternoon, she had stopped answering my kitty-kitty calls. I was sick. 


As a last attempt, I called my neighbor, a good friend and a roofer. His wife answered and Clint was instantly on his way with his 35-foot ladder. My 50-feet estimate had been pretty close; his ladder was 15 feet short. By this time, the cat had been in the tree for 48 hours. 


Two hours, five phone calls, two neighbors and two tree services later, Clint had managed to find a guy with a bucket truck who was willing to come up the rutted lane of the Path Valley Hotel on a Friday night to try and rescue my silly, stupid cat. I sent him up the tree with a pillow case.IMAG0450


His bucket towered about the Hotel roof. My neighbors and the rescuer’s wife watched with me from the ground as he plucked that tiny body from the top of the hemlock. He didn’t need the pillow case and I could only hold my breath.  As he approached the ground, he signaled Clint to jump up into the cab of the truck.  A tiny, little fur ball was returned to me, cold and hungry, but not much the worse for her adventure. I cried. (Thank you, Clint, and thank you, Daniel from Barnhart’s Tree Service!)


For the first night after her rescue, she attached herself to me like Velcro, purred all night and even followed me into the bathroom so she could wrap around my ankles. CpcuBy day two, she had bounced back completely, refusing any cat food that was not fresh from the can,  swatting at the dogs and crapping right beside the litter pan. It was good to have her home and safe, if only for those first 24 hours. There will be no skeleton in my hemlock tree for now. Next time? I’m not so sure.



  1. Oh my gosh! I cannot imagine one of my girls in a tree for 48 hours……what an adventure to get her down. And, I didn’t know that fire companies really do answer such calls!

  2. My gentle Edward went off the upstairs porch last month and was gone three days. With coyotes and no defensive claws. He reappeared the very morning I was leaving for a week in Michigan. I think he knew that. I hate cats.

  3. That happened to a kitty of ours when I was 8 and my Dad called the fire company. In no time they rescued her, instantly becoming heroes to me. It’s something you never forget and always appreciate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: