Monday, October 24, 2011

Creative Uses for Kitchen Implements

Can you guess what this is for? Yes, that's the paddle from my mixer. And an old basket. And some string.

Today, these items helped rescue our kitten from a tree.

This is Sasha. She's five months old. We got her from the Animal Shelter a month ago, and she has been loads of fun - she's cuddly and loveable, plays day and night, and entertains us and our older cat (Melvil) by racing around the house constantly carrying toys in her mouth.

Today was an unexpectedly gorgeous October day: crisp blue sky, the remaining leaves on the trees shining gold and orange in the bright, clear light. Sasha went outside to chase leaves and chipmunks.

It wasn't much later when I heard pitiful howling. Sasha has a lot of different meows, but she had never meowed like this. I knew before I stepped outdoors what had happened: she had climbed too high in the cedar tree and was stuck.

Every kitten we have ever had has gotten stuck in this tree. It seems to be a rite of passage. One or two have been rescued by my husband, two got down on their own, and one was rescued by the UPS man. (That's another story!)

Sasha was perched on a branch about 15 feet up. I talked to her, moved around the tree, encouraged her to climb down. The tree has lots of branches, so it isn't very difficult for a cat to climb up or down, but apparently there is a critical height at which climbing down just looks too scary. She moved from branch to branch but didn't make any downward progress.

I left her howling up there for several hours, hoping she would figure it out. She didn't. It was time for Plan B.

I brought a ladder over and climbed up,but she was still about eight feet above me. It seemed to make her happier that I was close by, but she wouldn't budge. I pointed at branches, shouted encouragement, assured her that she could do it, but she just continued to meow.

I thought that maybe I could hold something up for her to grab - a broom? a shovel? Those didn't sound very feasible, and would probably end up making me fall off the ladder! I needed a reliable Plan C!

Then I realized that maybe she would get into a basket. She loves baskets! And if the basket was on a rope, and the rope went over a branch, then she could be lowered down gently!

Great concept, except it sounded to me like something that would happen in a cartoon, not likely for a real-life terrified kitten. Well, I figured, what the heck, at least it would give me something to do while she howled. I went searching for the necessary tools, had to settle for string (which I doubled up so it would be strong enough), and lacking a convenient lead weight, I nabbed the mixer's paddle to use as the counterweight.

Climbing back up to the top of the ladder, I threw the weight up and over a branch. I nearly clonked myself on the head with the mixer paddle a few times. Though I tried repeatedly, I could not reach the branch she was on, and was only able to get the basket up to the branch below her. Since she had already demonstrated that she was too scared to climb down, I figured there was no hope. Nonetheless, I pulled the basket up to the branch, secured the string and left it there for awhile.

When I went outside 15 minutes later she was climbing down! I had to race up the ladder before she reached the basket, in case I hadn't secured the string well enough. Without hesitation she stepped into the basket; it swung and wobbled, and I was sure she would jump back. Instead, she pulled her whole body in and crouched down. I slowly began to lower the basket with her in it.

I was still balancing at the top of the ladder, and I was sure that I would have to struggle with a crazed Sasha, that she would jump out onto my shoulder the instant the basket was close. However, when the basket drew near, she refused to get out, and instead rode in it all the way to the ground.
I felt very proud of my invention, and Sasha was extremely grateful. She spent the next hour curled up next to me on the couch, purring, grasping my arm with her paws, as if she were worried that I might leave.

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