Nine-year-old girl was terrified that her cat Buddy would die stuck up a tree

NEWS AND COMMENT-MOTTINGHAM, LONDON: This is a slightly different version of the classic "cat-stuck-up-a-tree" story. It was New Year's Day and very cold. It was in the evening and dark. Buddy a large, white domestic cat, had been frightened by a dog and the fireworks and had raced up a tree near his home. He refused to come down. He's the cat companion of Zoe, the daughter of Alison Miles.

Buddy safely back on terra firma
Buddy safely back on terra firma. Photo: Alison Miles.

Miles called both the RSPCA and the fire service. Both refused to help. She was disgusted. She said that the RSPCA "didn't even bother coming up".

The fire brigade did turn up but according to her one of the fireman said: "I don't like cats". That was an excuse for not helping, it seems. Another fireman said that the ladder was not tall enough. And therefore, they were unable to help. Another firefighter said that they weren't going to waste water after Miles suggested that they jetted some water at Buddy to force him to jump onto a nearby roof.

The end result was that both the RSPCA and the fire service decided that they couldn't help. In defence, the RSPCA said that they were very busy on that night and the fire service said that they do have people who like cats. They didn't press on and help because they decided that others could do the job.

And others did do the job because the community rallied around and they managed to find a tree surgeon to assist them. He chopped off the branch on which Buddy was huddled. This forced him to fall to the ground where a group of people held a sheet to break his fall. He survived and is now safe.

It was an ordeal for both Alison and her daughter Zoe. Zoe went through a very tough time according to her mother. She couldn't sleep and when Buddy finally made it after three days, she stayed up all night to feed and water him. She was terrified that he would die of a lack of water.

And it was a really cold night. Both Zoe and her mother thought that he wouldn't make it. His meows had become very faint.

Alison said: 

"We thought he was going to be dead by the time we got to him. Even when he was down, we didn't think he'd make it through the night. It was horrendous because he's not my cat, it's my little girl's cat. I had three nights with her crying that he's going to die in the tree – especially with all the fireworks. The fourth night was the worst one; she wouldn't sleep. She stayed up all night cuddling him, making sure he ate and drank. It was heart-wrenching. It's been freezing, really cold, so we were all worried. Thankfully, he's all right now.

A fire service spokesperson said:

“A crew from Eltham attended on Monday and the officer in charge looked at all options. The cat was higher than the traditional ladders carried on fire engines and an aerial ladder would not have been able to pitch close enough to effect a rescue. Firefighters explained the situation to the residents, suggested a tree surgeon might be able to help and left so that they were available for another emergency call. Firefighters are animal lovers and two of the five firefighters who attended the scene are cat owners themselves."

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