What to do
If a cat gets stuck in a tree, Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said calling 911 is a good option to start the search for help.
“The 911 dispatchers can help you find the right avenues,” said Shivers, adding that the fire department "tries to help when we can.”
Firefighters sometimes help get cats of trees depending on the circumstances, including height of the tree, location in the yard and other factors.
The ground ladder may not be tall enough to reach the cat, he said, and the truck may not be able to drive to a spot where its ladder can reach.
The safety of the firefighters must also be considered, Shivers said.
In some cases, non-county employees trained in tree climbing volunteer to help with a rescue, he said.
Typically, the fire department receives about a call a month asking for help to get a cat out of a tree, Shivers said.
He added that it’s also a good idea to wait a while after the cat climbs up the tree to see if it comes down on its own.
-- Alyssa LaRenzie
Greer Ann Gordon was outside playing when she heard the meows.
The 7-year-old walked to the right and to the left and looked all over, but the sound didn’t seem to get any closer.
Then she looked up — way up.
About 55 feet in the air, she saw her 2-year-old cat, Covy, perched in the hardwood at the front of the family’s Forsyth County lake house.
It took 18 hours -- and plenty of trial and error -- before the black cat was rescued from the tree, mother Gail Gordon said.
“When we first saw him up there, it seemed like he was on top of a mountain,” Gail Gordon said. “He just cried and cried and cried. It was horrible.”
They didn’t know how Covy, who’s an indoor cat, had gotten out, much less that high up the tree. But they knew they had to get him down before they planned to leave the next day.
The family’s first thought, as well as the top recommendation of friends, was to call the fire department. No luck.
The Gordons then thought to try a veterinarian, who recommended the fire department.
Next was a tree removal company, which said it typically costs hundreds of dollars just to take out the truck.
Gail Gordon said her husband even tried his own hand at the rescue by renting the tallest ladder he could find and setting it in the bed of his truck. Still, the cat was too high to reach.
Her husband slept on the couch by an open front door all night, but Covy was in the same spot the next morning, on Mother’s Day.
Gail Gordon said she called the tree removal company again and “left a pitiful message,” which got a response with an offer for a reduced rate.
Eddie Cook, owner of Blue Ridge Tree Removal, said when he heard the plea, it "sounded like they were at a dead end.”
Cook brought out the bucket truck that Sunday and took Gail Gordon up with him to retrieve Covy.
He said the cats are often scared to come down and can react strangely, so it’s best to have someone the cat knows grab him.
Gail Gordon said as she was lifted up toward Covy, his meows got faster with excitement.
“When I went to grab him — even though I think he was so glad I was there — his instinct was to claw into the limb,” she said. “I wasn’t letting go, though ... He didn’t scratch me or anything, and he just clung like he was so happy.”
As the bucket descended, Cook said the family stood around “clapping like a bunch of cheerleaders.”
Seeing the family so happy, he decided to ask only for gas money.
“I know how attached people are to their pets,” he said. “On something like this, I was more or less trying to help them out.”
In his 26 years in business, Cook said the cat was one of only a dozen he's rescued. He was also one of the highest up.
“They literally saved the day,” Gail Gordon said. “We had no such luck getting anyone to help us.”
Greer Ann Gordon said she was so happy to see the rescued cat, whom she got as a kitten.
His full name, Covington Sebastian Gordon, came from meshing several of the then 5-year-old’s friend’s names together.
“He’s such a spoiled cat. Having him up in that tree was just horrible,” Gail Gordon said.
Then turning to Covy and speaking in a baby voice, she added: “Wasn’t it?”