A cat that spent nearly a week in a Greenport tree is now free after neighbors and town officials banded together.
Mattituck tree service Shamrock Tree Company, in cooperation with the North Fork Animal Welfare League, was able to encourage the cat, whose gender was unclear and which did not have a name, to leave the tree on Bailey Avenue at about noon on Tuesday.
“It looked healthy and like he knew where he was going. He just took off,” said Gabby Stroup, manager at Southold Animal Shelter, which is run by the animal league.
The feline rescue mission was elaborate, she said. Over the course of five days, the group, consisting of neighbors, animal advocates and town officials, brought in two bucket trucks, a net, blankets and a significant amount of “real smelly, stinky” cat food.
“It just didn’t work,” Stroup said.
Debbie Hooper, who lives across the street from the tree, said she first heard the cat’s cries on Thursday. When she went to investigate, she spotted the cat about 30 feet up in the tree. The cat grew more frightened as she and neighbors tried to talk to it.
“I was thinking its nine lives might be over soon,” she said. “No animal should suffer like that. It’s just so cold.”
Hooper called the Town of Southold’s highway department, which arrived with a bucket truck on Friday morning. But the cat got spooked by the activity and ran farther up the estimated 75-foot tree than the truck could reach, said Vincent Orlando, the town’s superintendent of highways.
When officials and animal league volunteers returned Monday, the cat was still unreachable, so they placed food in strategic locations and on the roofs of neighboring buildings to try to coax the cat down.
“We just could not reach it,” Orlando said.
By Tuesday morning, neighbors and animal league staffers became concerned about the weather forecast, which warned of winds picking up and temperatures dropping into the 20s on Wednesday.
That’s when the group decided to call Shamrock. Shamrock owner Jonathan Shipman said he has rescued a number of cats and even a red-tailed hawk that once got stuck in a winery tree with his 60-foot bucket truck.
“It was pretty easy access with my bucket truck; it only took minutes,” Shipman said. “I tried to get above the cat and I had a large fishing net — I was going to try to scare it down the tree, or if that didn’t work, I was going to get it in the net.”
The cat came down, attempted to climb back up and then bolted before volunteers below could grab it, Stroup said. The cat appears to be part of a local feral colony, she added.
“I felt bad listening to this poor little animal crying for days,” Hooper said. “I’m glad someone came, I’m glad somebody finally got it down.”