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Down to eight lives - cats in sticky situations.

Cats are very capable animals. By and large they get themselves out of trouble almost as often as they get themselves into it. It's a fact of life that cats get into tricky situations with alarming frequency, because your average cat is both adventurous and curious - and we all know what curiosity did to the cat. When cats get deeper into trouble than they can get out of, it often takes a lot of skill and ingenuity to save them.

We've all heard about cats getting stuck in trees. Cats are very good climbers - going up - but getting down is more of a problem. Climbing down head-first is difficult and dangerous as the catís centre of gravity is wrong. So a catís inclination is to keep going up until either a way out appears, or the cat runs out of tree.

The video below tells the story of a cat which ended up like a Christmas decoration near the top of a very tall tree and was stuck there for five days. Fortunately the cat was a Siamese, and Siamese are not a breed which suffer in silence. Eventually the cat managed to point out her predicament loudly enough to attract attention, make the local news, and bring a tree surgeon to the rescue.
    Matt Steppuhn (the rescuer) used his crane to lift himself up the tree. Whereupon, naturally, the terrified cat fled the rest of the way up. Matt had to get out of his Ďbucketí and use his excellent climbing skills and specialist equipment to get the rest of the way to where the cat had retreated. Then there was just the small matter of climbing down from the topmost branches of a very tall tree whilst holding a very scared Siamese. At last report the fortunate feline was recuperating at a local animal shelter awaiting either adoption or for her human to come and claim her, while Matt deserves the thanks of grateful cat-lovers everywhere.

Here is another video story, this time from a part of Arizona where tall trees are rare - but they are well off for cacti. The saga of a small cat which was stuck atop a very tall saguaro cactus kept the locals glued to their televisions as the authorities tried to figure out how to get the cat down from its spiny perch . No-one knows how the cat got up there in the first place, though the most likely theory was that it took desperate measures while being chased by coyotes.
    The video below shows the moment when the cat decided that enough was enough. Tiring of the efforts by the ineffectual humans to get her down, the cat did it for herself. Fortunately the thorns of the saguaro grow at the peak of the vertical ridges which make up the catcusí surface and it seems that the cat managed to get enough of a grip on the fleshy sides of each ridge to get down apparently unharmed.

Cats on a Plane is a potential horror movie which plays in the mind of anyone who has ever had to fly with their pet. There are so many things which can go wrong that it is actually surprising that so few do.
    When a serious incident occurs it is certain to hit the news and bestow temporary notoriety on the unfortunate human who brought the cat on board. As cat-lovers, we will spare her blushes, and leave anonymous the unfortunate individual who brought a cat named Ripples on to an Air Canada flight from Halifax to Toronto.
    Ripples decided that life in the clouds was not for him, and made a break for freedom during boarding. As the mortified owner explained, Ripples had to be removed from the carry-on bag during the security check. When Ripples was put back in his luxury travel compartment, the bottom lock was not properly secured. Ripples, already stressed by the unfamiliar environment did what many cats would do under the circumstances - saw his chance and ran for it.
    With perfect mis-timing someone chose that moment to open the door to the cockpit and Ripples gratefully dived for cover in the tangle of wiring under one of the panels. Boarding was stopped and passengers watched with interest as frantic owner tried to coax frantic cat from hiding.
    Eventually technical staff were called in to access the panel and a reluctant Ripples was dragged from his refuge. However, the wiring amidst which Ripples had fought for freedom was essential for the safe operation of the plane. So there was a further delay while experts ascertained that nothing essential had been damaged during the struggle. In due course the green light was given and the plane finally left for Toronto - some four hours after it was originally scheduled to take off. You can read the full story here.

Some of the most tricky rescues are when a cat wriggles into a pipe and gets stuck. Cats know that if they can fit their heads into something, their bodies will follow. The problem is that once inside a pipe, there is no turning back. And if there is no easy exit at the other side, and the pipe is, say, four feet underground, our cat has a serious problem. As one fire rescue officer remarked when called to help on one occasion, there are no protocols laid down and no training for such situations. All you can do is improvise and hope for the best. The video below shows a rescue of a kitten stuck in a pipe.
    A concerned citizen heard this kitten meowing and eventually realized that the meowing was coming from a pipe.The kitten was stuck solid. Realizing the impossibility of effecting the rescue himself, the bystander called for help. Rescuers first had to isolate the exact section of pipe where the kitten was stuck and then carefully cut it through just below the kittenís head.
    Once freed no human could be found to take responsibility for the feline misadventurer, and the kitten was eventually adopted by an employee of the local TV station which had covered the rescue. Naturally enough, the kitten has been named 'Piper'.

Then there were the three feral newborn kittens near Park Tudor School, Indianapolis. When disturbed they fled down a nearby drain pipe. Staff at the school tried hard to get the kittens out, but after 48 hours it was clear that if the kittens were to survive they needed more professional rescuers.
    A plumbing company was called. The plumber ran a sewer camera down the drainage pipe and after a while one of the kittens came into view. It walked down the pipe right up to the camera, proving that while curiosity might kill the cat, it can also occasionally save one. A three-foot hole was dug down to the pipe, which was cut near the camera. Late that afternoon the kitten which had stayed by the camera was saved, but despite best efforts, the other kittens were never found.

You can see the rescue of the feral kitten on this video:

It is not always that a cat gets herself into trouble through curiosity, mischief or because of being frightened. Sometimes it is the cruelty of a human who simply wants to harm a cat out of pure malice. Then it is up to animal rescue services to put things right. This last, disturbing, story is about a cat which was bitten by a dog and then buried alive. The Animal Rescue Service near Birmingham, Alabama was alerted and started an emergency rescue. It took a whole night of digging and searching but finally the cat was uncovered. The cat itself climbed out of trouble by using the body of one of the rescuers as a impromptu ladder. This story too has a happy ending. Soon after being rescued, the cat was adopted and is now doing fine.


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