Jonathan Prest thinks maybe the cat was testing him.
Each time he got close to that white kitty, it climbed just a little bit further, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they both weren’t already 100 or so feet in the air, clinging to a dead red cedar tree.
Prest, owner of Johnny 5’s Tree Services, has been in some precarious spots, but none moreso than this. The top of this tree was what those in the business call a snipe or a snag, a dead portion of a tree that was dry and ready to snap at any time, making this the most perilous of rescues.
He higher he went, the more he thought he really might die.
“My life is on the line,” he thought.
People think it’s firefighters who get all the rescue-my-cat calls, but Prest says he gets plenty. Most are more mundane. This one started with a frantic voice on the phone telling him about a terrified cat who scrambled up this particular tree on the far end of the Chehalis First Nation (between Deroche and Agassiz) on Sunday.
He was still there three days later.
“Whatever chased him up the tree must have gone up after him, because he is waaaaay up there,” Prest thought when he got to the scene Wednesday night and looked waaaaaay up.
He geared up and headed up, hoping to lure the cat down with treats given to him by the cat’s family, but the kitty wasn’t having it. Prest tried every tactic in the playbook. Noises. Hand gestures. He even placed the treats in a fishing net to see if the cat would climb in.
He would not.
The only way the cat wanted to go was towards the very tip of the dried out tree, forcing Prest into a tough decision. If he followed him to the top, there was a good chance the tree might snap, and he wasn’t likely to survive a fall from that height.
“I don’t want to climb any further than I need to climb,” he thought.
But he couldn’t leave the cat where he was, so Prest took a deep breath and made his move, hoping the tree would hold.
And, hoping the cat would cooperate.
He’s never had a cat turn on him and start scratching and biting, but if this one did, an extra level of danger would be added to the situation. Prest had actually rushed out the door so quick to get to this call that he left his gloves at home. The last thing he wanted was to lose his grip on a squirming animal and drop it, but thankfully, this one was ready to be rescued. As Prest reached out and gently put his hands around the cat, it went limp, allowing him to safely place it in the bag he brought with him.
Then it was back down as swiftly as possible to reunite the cat with its loving owner.
All the anxiety he’d felt minutes earlier faded away as he watched the reunion, providing a reminder of why he does this.
“We need more kindness and love in this world,” he thought, as he listened to the cat purring away. “When you put your life on the line for another living thing, it’s quite an experience.”