Hanging on to Hope and a Tree Branch
Just when I thought there was a shortage of kindness, a stranger proved me wrong, and it gave me hope.
I happened to peer out my Living Room window one snowy Saturday morning while still in my pajamas. My plans were for a lazy start and a slow brewed cup of tea, until I noticed a car parked in front of our house. A woman was standing in my neighbor’s yard by the road looking intently at something, with great concern. I watched her with wonder, curious as to why or what she was staring at with such seriousness.
As far as I could tell there was no car accident or medical emergency. So, I hurriedly dressed in warm layers, anticipating the cold air and events outside. While I changed, the woman appeared at our door to tell my husband that another car had hit an animal and driven away. She asked if we knew who the black and white kitten belonged to, and then declared that he was in pretty bad shape with a broken hind leg and cut eye. Frightened, the cat had climbed a tree in our neighbor’s yard, three-legged and one-eyed.
My two sons and I rushed outside to see how we could help. Our hearts cried out when we saw the little one up in the tree, balanced precariously on three good legs about twenty feet off the ground, shivering. He looked at us with his one good eye as we frantically called to him from below. “Come down. We won’t hurt you. We’re trying to help you!”
The woman spoke. “If we could get him down, we’ll take him to the animal hospital. They said they would take care of him. We called Animal Control, but they’ll probably just put him to sleep. We can’t just leave him here. He’ll freeze.”
Time froze instead, and stood still, making minutes feel like hours in the cold. What was taking Animal Control so long? I sent the boys in to warm up and grab an old towel. The strangers with the sad faces and big hearts had to leave for whatever they were already late for. That left just me and the kitten hanging on to hope and a tree branch.
The boys came back with the towel, and my youngest one asked, “Mom, why don’t we pray for the cat?” Life’s little lessons are sometimes taught by an eight year old.
“That’s a great idea. Let’s pray for God to send someone to help him down and take care of him before he freezes out here.”
In answer to our prayer, Animal Control arrived on cue. The officer was kind and gentle as I hoped he would be, and it warmed my spirit to meet another so willing to help. The cat didn’t care, however, that he was kind and gentle. As soon as the officer came near the cat with his rescue pole, the cat retreated higher still into the tree, another five or ten feet!
“Oh kitty! What are you doing? You’re going to fall. Don’t go up higher. Come back down.” I shouted these things to the cat as if he understood and would listen.
“Here!” I shoved the towel at the officer. “Catch him with it.”
He gave me a look like I was a crazy, but soon was poised for catching falling cats from trees.
The kitten’s back legs started to slip on the thin branch it was balancing on. Hanging on to life with its front paws wrapped around a branch above, he dangled like that for several long seconds. Then down he fell, fighting to right himself. Miraculously, the Animal Control officer caught the injured cat in my towel, and the cat resigned himself to being caught. I felt like an enthusiastic baseball fan cheering for a little leaguer who just caught a fly ball! I had to contain myself from clapping and cheering. It’s not every day I see injured cats caught out of trees, and so many joining the effort to help save something so helpless.
The Animal Control officer promised he would give the cat some pain medication and “fix him up” best he could. He was optimistic that he belonged to someone and was not a stray, since he didn’t put up a fight.
I was optimistic for different reasons. My sense of trust was renewed, as was my hope for the human spirit.
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