Besides death and taxes, one of the few certainties in life is that cats will get stuck in trees.

What’s less common is for people to follow their flighty felines into the branches – but that’s what happened Wednesday morning in Gardiner.

Around 11:30 a.m., the city’s firefighters were called to help a woman who had become stuck in a tree while trying to rescue her cat. The call came from property on Brunswick Avenue, near the Richmond town line and in the vicinity of the Interstate 295 on-ramps, according to Al Nelson, chief of the Gardiner Fire Department.

By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the woman had made it down safely on her own. After making sure she was safe, they left the scene — even though the cat remained in the tree.

“That’s not a dispatch you hear every day,” said Nelson, who was not on the call and said the responders were out fewer than five minutes.

Nelson didn’t know several details about the call, including who made the call, the type of cat, and how far it or the woman had made it up the tree.

There have been other cases of Mainers chasing cats into trees. Nelson offered some advice for people who might be tempted to do the same: Avoid the heroics, and instead try putting a bowl of tuna fish or wet cat food at the bottom of the tree.

“Don’t climb up after it. I say that kind of in jest, but in reality, the vast majority of times a cat will find its way down,” he said. “Most of the time, we encourage people to put out food that will just entice the cat to come down themselves.”

In the popular imagination, firefighters are valiant souls who can easily pluck frightened kitties out of trees. But in reality, Nelson said, trying to wrangle a cat to the ground can be difficult, counterproductive business.

Even if the ladder on a firetruck can bring rescuers close to the stranded animal, the cat might jump to the ground instead.

“The whole firefighter-getting-a-cat-out-of-a-tree thing, most of the time, when we try to do that, it’s very difficult, because the cat is scared,” Nelson said. “The last thing we want to do is have someone get hurt trying to pull a cat out of a tree.”

After 30 years in the fire service, Nelson continued, he finds that “the cats always seem to make it out one way or the other. They’re amazingly resilient.”

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ceichacker

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