Last One out on a limb

October 16, 2007 11:00 pm

Gentle cat with survivor's past may not survive newest peril

By Matthew C. Durkee

Triplicate Features Editor

CRESCENT CITY — Mary Hall stood on the side of Parkway Drive and looked up into the pines.

"I can't see her anymore, but I can hear her. Last One! Sweetie!"

A feeble meow came from somewhere in the trees.

Last One, Hall's 5-year-old long-haired gray cat, has been marooned up a tall, scraggly pine for nine days.

Hall isn't sure why Last One, an affectionate feline not prone to climbing, got into the tree to begin with.

"I think maybe a raccoon chased her up there," Hall said.

At first, the normally talkative cat meowed and cried day and night. But as hours turned into days, her strength weakened to the point that she only answers back weakly when Hall yells for her.

The tree has almost no branches until 15 feet up, leaving Last One with few easy choices to get out of the tree.

Mary has brought milk and food—Last One cried hungrily but wouldn't come down.

Firefighters used a ladder to try to reach her—a frightened Last One retreated farther up the tree.

"They were so good and so sweet," Hall said, "but as they went up the ladder, she went up higher. Now she's scared."

Stuck roughly 70 feet up, Hall can't see Last One, but she can hear her.

Barely.

It would be easy to dismiss Last One's predicament as just another cat stuck in a tree, but the cat has beaten the odds before.

Hall used to volunteer at an animal rescue shelter where Last One was the sole survivor of an orphaned litter of nine kittens.

Hall said she had been hopeful initially that Last One's survivor instinct would compel her to find a way down. But without food for nine days and sounding weaker every hour, Last One seems to be reaching the end of her reserves.

"I know it's going to take one of those people with the feet thing and the belt thing," Hall said, referring to the equipment used by loggers to climb trees.

After spending several minutes walking around the tree, trying to catch a glimpse of Last One, Hall finally turned back on Parkway Drive and started walking back home.

"I would almost rather see her die suddenly," she says solemnly. "That's a horrible death."

Reach Matthew C. Durkee at 464-2141 or mdurkee@triplicate.

com.