February 11, 2016

An Egg, two Greeks, a slackline and a tree


An Egg, two Greeks, a slackline and a tree. It's not the set up for a joke or MacGuyver episode, but the components of a strange Wednesday evening.

Alan and I came home after work, expecting Egg to come greet us as he usually does. When we didn’t see him, we thought maybe he was relaxing indoors, thanks to the new wooden plank system we’ve rigged up to let him get in and out of our apartment.

Then we heard a distinct meow. My cat mom instincts cause me to run down to the backyard of our apartment complex still in my work clothes.

It turned out that Egg was perched about 35 feet off the ground in a big tree. He was stuck and in distress because he couldn’t get down.

Alan and I called to him a few times, but it was clear that he wouldn’t be able to get himself out easily, so Alan went back upstairs to change into clothes appropriate for climbing a tree.

Before he went up the tree, I reminded him that cats handle falls pretty well, but humans don’t.

Mercifully, Alan wasn’t able to climb more than 10 or 15 feet up, so I didn’t have to worry.

The next plan involved a rope. Alan’s nylon slackline, to be exact. I’m not sure what our plan was, exactly.

Around the time when we started hurtling the slackline into the tree with a few metal carabiners on the end for weights, our Greek neighbor showed up. He’s a mechanic by trade, and also a cat lover. During the day, I gather that he and Egg spend a lot of time working on his motorbike together.

He immediately jumped into our plan, and brought down a cushion from his couch as a crash pad for a falling Egg.

Based on YouTube videos I’ve seen, I figured that jumping out of the tree was Egg’s best shot at a safe return to Earth. But how to make him jump.

The three of us decided to hook the slackline around a tree branch and try to shake Egg out. Although I didn’t get in on the rope-pulling action until the very end, I can attest to how exhausting it is to exert that much force on a rope, pulling and pulling.

The shaking tree made Egg howl out of fear. He clung so tightly to the branch so far above the ground.

One of our Thai neighbors and his daughters came to see what all the fuss was about.

Egg was still in the tree tops.

Our Greek neighbor’s wife, a science professor at the university, came home to the confusion. She’s also Greek. They are the people who we recruit to care for Egg when we’re gone because they love cats.

The three of us continues our shake strategy until yet another Thai neighbor showed up, offering to call the campus security. She called, but it took a long time for them to show up. They didn’t have any equipment, so they tried to call their friend, who is apparently a great tree climber.

Around this time, I got in on the rope action, and gave the cushion to our mechanic neighbor. Alan and I pulled with all of our weight to shake poor Egg off that branch.

Eventually, he did slip off and plummet down, right onto the cushion in the neighbor’s arms. Egg immediately darted off. The science professor went to find him as we helped disperse the crowd that had gathered.

She came back with a shaking cat, still fluffed from fear.

I gave some Nebraska souvenirs to the woman who helped us as a small thank-you for going out of her way to help.

I snuggled Egg in my fleece Huskers jacket, and I invited our neighbors in for a beer. It had been such a stressful situation, but we enjoyed our drinks, and later, dinner together.

Egg survived the incident with only a few painful claws, and hopefully a new fear of heights. I think he might be down to eight lives.