No one knows how she got up there, but they could hear her cries for days. So why did it take so long for anyone to do something about it?
A small black cat about a year old somehow got herself stranded on the roof of a one-story medical building in Watsonville, California. She meowed. She meowed some more. Lots of people heard her and saw her. Unfortunately, lots of people also assumed she was perfectly fine.
Some kind soul eventually realized the cat’s true predicament — she wasn’t basking in the sun and visiting that rooftop every day on a kitty frolic. She was marooned up there.
A call to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter brought responders to the building on Sunday, June 22. People living and working in and around that building told the shelter that the cat had been up there a long time – possibly as long as two months. The shelter was doubtful of this claim at first.
Shelter workers were unable to walk on the Mexican-style clay-tiled roof to retrieve the cat because it was too steep. Initially they decided to leave the cat there to see if she would come down on her own. She didn’t.
A Caring Person With a Sling Shot Kept the Kitty from Starving
Fortunately, the cat had been getting a bit of food while she waited for someone to help her.
“One of the neighbors told me someone had a sling shot and was literally slinging [cat food] up there,” Todd Stosuy of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
“It’s definitely hard to believe but seeing the amount of food up there and hearing numerous different neighbors tell the same story; well they can’t all be in cahoots,” he added.
By Wednesday, June 25, it was clear to shelter workers that the cat wasn’t able to climb down herself. They laid a trap on the roof and caught her. The first stop after that was to a local veterinarian.
Seeing the poor cat up close, Stosuy realized that the neighbors weren’t exaggerating about how long she may have been stuck. The cat was so thin he could see her ribs and hip bones.
“She was obviously getting some sort of [sustenance] when people were sling shotting food up there but not getting what she needed,” Stosuy said. He now believes the cat was indeed stranded on that roof for up to two months.
Cats Can Climb Down Whenever They Want To, Right?
Stosuy thinks that the people from that building and those nearby who’d seen the cat assumed it could get itself down whenever it chose to do so. That’s not necessarily the case. Although cats are great climbers, climbing means going up, not down.
To get down from a tree, for example, a cat has to be able to climb backwards. Cats’ claws are designed to move a cat upward, but not to give it the right hold to turn around and go back down.
Only one cat – the margay or “tree ocelot” – is known to have the ability to climb down a tree headfirst. It can do so because it can rotate its hind legs 180 degrees, giving it the squirrel-like ability to run down a tree and hang by branches from one foot.
If a house cat gets itself up a tree and then realizes it cannot come back down face first, that kitty is suddenly stranded. Cats can climb down out of trees backwards, but it’s a learned skill rather than a natural ability. That’s why sometimes cats need assistance to get down from a tree or a rooftop.
Recognize When a Cat Needs Help and Do Something
If a cat is stuck for too long in an inconvenient spot, it will have no access to food or water. Dehydration and starvation will set in quickly.
You may decide to give a cat the chance to come back down on its own. If that’s the plan, never leave a cat which seems to be stuck for longer than a day or two at the very most. If it isn’t down by then, it needs help.
If you’re dealing with a declawed cat or one that isn’t ordinarily outdoors much, you’ll probably know pretty quickly if it can’t get down. Find help as soon as you can.
The moral of this story is to keep a watchful eye out for animals in distress. Don’t assume they have a natural ability to get themselves out of jams. Don’t feel confident someone else will take care of it. Make the call for help yourself and watch to ensure the situation is appropriately resolved, because every so often our animal friends need a gentle helping hand from us. Be alert enough to realize when that situation is playing out right in front of you.
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