Behind the Scenes with a Purrfessional Cat Rescuer
Ben Roberts isn't particularly a cat person. He loves his work because of the joy he gets from reuniting children with their beloved pets. Their smiles are all he needs to make the climb worthwhile.
Ben is a part-time cat rescuer, scaling trees and poles to bring Fluffy or Daisy back down to terra firma. To date, he's rescued nearly 30 cats from their treetop predicaments.
Im not a cat lover myself, said the 31-year-old Puyallup man. Im a cat liker when I have to go get one.
It's been five years since Roberts rescued his first cat and he boasts a 100 percent success rate as long as you don't count an African grey parrot that flitted from tree to tree and repeatedly eluded capture.
His most recent rescue came the evening of Jan. 10. Puff Puff, a black cat belonging to 8-year-old Breslen Taylor, was going on his seventh night in a tree.
Michelle Taylor, concerned about an expected storm and tormented by the cats meowing, asked Roberts for help.
With Breslen and her family anxiously watching from the deck, Roberts slipped on a harness and lanyards and shimmied up the 115-foot Douglas fir.
In less than an hour, Puff Puff was inside his rescuers bag and being lowered to the ground.
He found Puff Puff, Mommy, he got Puffy, Breslen yelled in excitement.
Taylor, who is slightly afraid of heights and couldnt watch the rescue, said Roberts more than deserved his $150 fee.
Not all cat rescues have gone so smoothly, though.
There was the time he had to use a handsaw to cut a cat off the top of a tree because the branches were too unstable to support Roberts weight.
The glass shattered, but the kitty survived.
As an arborist for the City of Seattle and a resident firefighter, it was inevitable that Roberts would become a cat rescuer.
When fellow arborist Dan Kraus told him about a website he ran www.catinatreerescue.com and asked if hed like to be listed, Roberts jumped at the opportunity.
Roberts says that business is brisk around full moons and in the summer months.
With his 100% success rate, Roberts has pretty much cornered the business on cat rescuing in Pierce County.
Most fire departments opt out of cat rescue calls in case theyre called out to an emergency with a "real" person. Humane societies cant do more than recommend an arborist or cat rescuer like Roberts.
Pet owners sometimes call for help after the frisky feline has been treed for hours but most wait three days before pleading for outside help.
Roberts recommends they let the cat come down on its own but will come to the rescue if needed.
The longest hes seen a cat stay in a tree was nine days.
Ive never seen a dead cat in a tree, he said. But that doesnt mean it couldnt happen.
[SOURCE: The News Tribune]