Cat climbs higher as rescuers approach

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
April 25, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Wildlife experts spent the day trying to retrieve a cat stranded in a tree, but the animal was still swatting away rescue attempts as of Thursday evening.

One person climbed the tree, and another tried to reach the timid cat using a bucket truck with a 55-foot reach, but the cat scrambled to higher branches where it could not be reached.

The cat has been in the tree since at least Saturday.

Police and animal control officials were at the Branford Road house Thursday morning, Deputy Police Chief Michael Doody said.

Homeowner Timothy Sommo allowed volunteers access to the tree, and Marc Mathews, a tree-care professional who rescues cats for free, climbed it. The cat, however, eluded Mathews by moving into higher branches, which were too weak to support the climber.

“I went up about 60 feet, and then it went up too high,” Mathews said. “There’s really nothing I can do — they’re going to have to get somebody with a 75-foot bucket truck.”

The owner of New Haven Signs used his truck to access the tree, but it extended only 55 feet, and the cat remained out of reach.

When Mathews climbed the tree, other volunteers surrounded it with a stretched-out tarp to catch the cat. There was a hopeful moment as the cat hung on with only its front paws, but it was able to again secure a spot in between two branches.

Jennifer Weiffenbach of Statewide Wildlife Rescue in New Haven said she tried for several hours Thursday, with the assistance of the authorities, to find someone with a tall enough truck willing to come to the house.

Weiffenbach said she plans to continue working to free the cat today. Volunteers set up a tarp around the tree in case the cat falls overnight. There has also been food set out at the base of the tree for a few days.

Without food and water for several days, Weiffenbach said that there is a risk of renal failure for the animal.

“We really want to get her down before her system starts to suffer,” she said. “She can look as healthy as she can from the ground, but her system is going to start to suffer, so we need to get her down and get her to a vet.”

One woman, who said she was from Guilford, went to the house Thursday because her cat has been missing for several days. The photo she brought looked similar to the cat in the tree, brown with white paws, but it was not possible to tell from a distance if it was the woman’s cat.

Rescuers do not know if the cat is feral, but no one in the neighborhood has said they are missing a cat.

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