Almond the cat never leaves his home. He doesn’t have to. He has a devoted servant who provides him everything he needs.
Last June, a cat had a litter of kittens high in the branches of a maple tree on retired carpenter Ron Venden’s property in Green County, Wisconsin.
One day Venden heard a noise in his tree. He got out his ladder and investigated, and he found the little kitten, whom he named Almond.
“[The mother cat] up and left and moved them all, except this little one,” Venden said.
To protect the tiny kitten from the icy Wisconsin weather, he built a tarp shelter and put a straw bed in the hollow of the tree. He also set up a dry food feeder.
Every day, Venden climbs a 12-foot ladder to deliver Almond fresh food and treats, including salami, meatloaf and milk.
“At first he was real feisty at me, but soon he started letting me pet him and now he’s as tame as can be,” he said.
Venden says he never sees paw prints around the tree, even when it snows, and he believes Almond never leaves his abode. Venden’s relatives also say they’ve never seen the cat anywhere other than the tree.
“I’ve tried to bring [Almond] down a couple times and he starts scratching,” Venden said.
The 7-month-old feline doesn’t seem to be bothered by snow or single-digit temperatures. He sits proudly in his roost, protected from the elements and plump from Venden’s ministrations, and surveys his domain.
So why does Almond stay? “I think it’s because I’m treating him too good,” said Venden.
Dane County Animal Services Officer Patrick Comfert said, “We have all gotten our share of cat-in-a-tree calls, but we’ve never known one to stay up there forever.”
Those concerned for Almond’s welfare can rest assured: Because the cat is now fully grown, has a space protected from the elements and is fed regularly, “it should be fine” even in frigid conditions, Comfert said.
Venden, who raises chickens on his hobby farm, had never been much of a cat lover.
“In his younger days, I would have never, ever, ever pictured him getting so attached [to a cat] ,” said Tammy Sias, Venden’s daughter, who helps feed Almond when her parents are away.
“It’s an amazing story,” she said. “[Almond] actually has no desire to come out of that tree.”
Sias said the tale of her father and Almond is known throughout his home town, where people often ask him, “How’s your tree cat today?”
Venden says he’s not going to stop feeding and caring for his tree cat — and he’ll make sure someone will always look after him.
“I want to see how long [Almond] stays here,” he said as he petted the tabby-and-white cat. “I kind of enjoy [caring for Almond]. The neighbors think I’m goofy.”