Cat trapped five days in tree

Rescue efforts finally get Benny down from 15-metre height

A well-fed and watered Benny the cat is resting up after spending five days trapped more than 15 metres up a tree in 30-degree heat.

Much to owner Corey O'Garr's relief, Benny was carried to solid ground with the help of her fellow Logan Lake residents and not the proper authorities.

"I called everybody I could've and they just wouldn't do it," O'Garr said Tuesday.

Benny, a Bengal cat, disappeared from O'Garr's home on Breccia Drive on Thursday. By the time she was found, the small cat had climbed up a nearby tree.

O'Garr and a neighbour tried to climb the tree, but the branches were too weak and too far apart to support them.

She phoned a number of agencies for help but the district's volunteer fire department, the RCMP, and public works but no one would rescue her cat, she said.

"She was up really high. She was up at the top of a gigantic tree," said O'Garr.

Desperate, and being a relative newcomer to Logan Lake, O'Garr posted a request for help on a Facebook page for Logan Lake.

That's when the community rallied together. Friend Barbara Batt lobbied local emergency crews, but was told Benny would eventually come down on her own.

That didn't sit well with Batt. She said the cat was in the tree for three days without food or water. Dehydration was becoming a concern.

By the third day news of the trapped cat made it to Maurice Cephas, a volunteer firefighter. Batt said he showed up with a climbing harness, rope and large fish net determined to rescue Benny.

Cephas climbed 10 metres up the tree, which prompted Benny to claw her way to him. Cephas said he had no way to direct the cat into the net, and it became frightened and climbed further into the tree.

On the fifth day Batt's brother-in-law, Jaron Redman, entered the picture. An avid rock and ice climber, Redman was willing to don his climbing gear, scale the tree and save the cat.

"Jaron made it up the tree and Benny came down two or three branches to meet him," she said. "The only hiccup is that he had nothing to hold Benny with."

Fortunately a hiker, Todd Paulmert, was in the right place at the right time. He offered his backpack as a makeshift cat carrier and, using a ladder provided by Batt's dad, climbed the tree to meet Benny and Redman, she said.

When the pack proved too small, a pillowcase that was tied to the top of the ladder was used to scoop up the cat, she said.

O'Garr said Benny is exhausted but otherwise fine.

Despite being traumatic for cat owners, it's best to leave a trapped cat in a tree, said Kamloops SPCA branch manager Charlene Holloway. Sooner or later, the cat will find a way down.

"If it got into the tree, it will get itself out of the tree," she said.

Laying out a white sheet with smelly food on it is a sure-fire way to lure a cat down, she said.

Holloway said emergency crews are committed to saving human life and will not dedicate personnel to an animal rescue.

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