LEWISTON – Think you had it rough during the rainstorm Wednesday night? You should try riding it out up a tree.
That’s what happened to a tiger cat on Edward Avenue that spent at least five days 40 feet up a maple tree. Before it was rescued on Thursday, the beast survived through scalding heat and then wind, rain and lightning.
“Last night, with all that wind and rain, we worried that it wouldn’t make it,” said Tanya Lippke, who tried all week to lure the cat down. “It tried to come down a couple times, but then it got scared and climbed back up. There’s a spot where three limbs come together. The cat got there and stayed put. When the rain tapered down, I would go out there with my daughter’s umbrella to check on the cat. It just cried and cried. We felt so bad.”
The following morning, the weather was better. The rain had stopped and the sky was blue. The Lippke family was almost afraid to go outside and look in the tree.
“I have 3-year-old twins,” Tanya said. “They said, ‘Let’s go check on the kitty.’”
And what do you know? The cat was still bunked out high up in the maple, damp and crying, but it had survived the worst storm of summer.
Tanya had been trying to find a hero all week. She tried the Fire Department. She tried police and an animal control officer. She even called some tree companies directly to implore them for help.
“Nobody would do it. They said the cat would come down eventually,” Tanya said. “But you know what? It wasn’t coming down.”
Drastic times, as they say, call for drastic measures.
Tanya went up as high in the command as she could go. She called the people of PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It was a last resort, a Hail Mary.
And it worked.
“I talked to someone at PETA,” Tanya said. “And they got a tree service to come right out here.”
Sometimes it’s a matter of being patient, said Stephanie Bell, cruelty casework manager at PETA. “And sometimes, you need to get someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Enter Taylor Dulac of Gerry’s Tree Service. He didn’t have a cape, but Taylor is a young lad, just right for climbing trees. It was go time on Edward Avenue.
While the Lippke family watched and photographers recorded it all for posterity, Taylor went up the tree. Within minutes, the cat was safely in custody. Man and beast descended the tree to the safety of solid footing below. It was over.
Almost over. There was the matter of that cat slipping away from its rescuers, but she was rounded up in due time and taken to the shelter. It was a happy ending on Edward Avenue, especially for the twins, Konner and Kenzie, who watched the drama unfold.
“They were really excited,” Tanya said.
By Thursday night, details about the cat were emerging. It is a female, as it turns out. She was in good health and in good shape. She only lacked a name. That may come soon enough when the acrobatic cat is put up for adoption in two days. That’s the period in which the cat must be held for observation before it is medically and temperamentally cleared.
The cost of the tree service was $150. Small potatoes, PETA said, considering that a life was saved. Tanya Lippke had nothing but praise for the group, which organized the cat rescue after all others had declined to help.
All in a day’s work, said Bell. It’s what they do.
“We were very alarmed to hear that the cat had been up there since Saturday,” she said. “We get a lot of complaints of treed cats. We know the routine.”