Saturday 27 November 2021

33 people recovered this cat from a tree

Perhaps this is the largest number of people who have rescued a cat from a tree. I'd be surprised if there was another instance in which more people were involved. Hank, an 18 month-old bicolour, ginger tabby normally spends his days in the backyard in a north-east Washington home. Sometimes he enjoys wandering into the garden of nuns who live in the same block reports The Washington Post.

Delores Bushong, who lives in Northeast, hugs her cat Hank after he was rescued from a tree in her neighbor's yard. (Courtesy of Humane Rescue Alliance)
Delores Bushong, who lives in Northeast, hugs her cat Hank after he was rescued from a tree in her neighbor's yard. (Courtesy of Humane Rescue Alliance)

Hank's owner is Dolores Bushong, 74. She adopted him from a rescue centre in the Shenandoah Valley area and has lived in north-east Washington for 30 years. She was amazed at the number of people who came to help.

"It really required a lot of people coming together and trying an incredible number of different things to get Hank out of that tree."

She said it was very frustrating to feel impotent when you love a cat as much as she does after Hank became stuck in a tree for five days with no food or water.

The 33 volunteers included strangers, animal rescue volunteers, friends and neighbours who tried half a dozen different ways to rescue him using baskets, catnip and tall ladders.

Hank got stuck on November 6 of this year (2021). Delores became worried when she called him and there was no response. It got dark and she began to worry some more. Then she heard Hank crying and looked up! She couldn't believe that he climbed a tree because he had never climb one before. Especially one so high.

She believes that Hank became scared of the neighbour's dogs and darted up the tree to escape. The Humane Rescue Alliance took the lead in his recovery. They called the DC Fire Department. They said they couldn't get up the tree with their ladders. Delores then called a construction company enquiring about renting scaffolding but she was told that she would have to book 48 days in advance. She couldn't rent a tall ladder because it was too expensive and difficult to organise.

She then called Casey Trees where she happens to be a volunteer and they sent an expert who said that it wasn't safe to climb up the tree because the branches were not sturdy enough.

One volunteer who turned up suggested that she call the owner of a nearby pest control business which they knew had a tall ladder. The owner of the business Ijeoma Maduforo-Barry said that she could use her 42-foot tall ladder.

Maduforo-Barry said that she had a soft heart and wanted to make sure that the rescue took place successfully. One neighbour produced a can of sardines to try and entice him down. That didn't work. After five days word had got around about the failed rescue attempts.

The customer care team at the Humane Rescue Allowance remembered a rope system and a basket with food inside. The idea is that the cat is enticed into the basket and then the basket is lowered to the ground. This particular method can be effective in cases where the cat is very high up.

As it transpired, the ropes and pulley contraption with the basket on the end worked. They also put some of Dolores slippers and some catnip in the basket to attract him. Hank took the bait and jumped in. I think by then he was keen to get down anyway and his senses told him that it was safe to jump in and that it would at last release him from his self-imposed captivity 40 feet in the air.


  1. Hank is so adorable! So happy that he is safe on the ground with his "mom". This is an excellent directory of resources to help with cats stuck up trees. Don't see the District of Columbia but maybe one in nearby Maryland could have assisted...

    1. Thanks for this. 99% of visitors who comment spam the website so it is nice to receive a genuinely helpful comment!


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