Chuck was stuck.
The cat had meandered nearly 2 miles from his home on Owego Street in Cortland to East River Road in Cortlandville — at least as the crow flies, there’s no telling how far it was as the cat prowls. But he had found his way up a tree.
Nobody’s quite sure why Chuck, a 6-year-old black short-hair owned by Siobhan Murphy of Cortland, decided to wander. Murphy said Thursday that he didn’t come home Saturday night, and she grew worried Sunday. But still no Chuck.
On Tuesday, a passer-by saw Chuck perched among the branches, perhaps 30 feet above the ground, which drops off quickly from the north side of the road. Calls ensued; social media posts soon followed.
Someone tried to cut down the tree he was in, but even as the tree tipped, Chuck jumped — into another tree.
Chuck has luck, but Chuck was still stuck.
Celia Daniels of Davenport, an animal hauler, noticed the cat as the tree was being cut, and started making phone calls: fire department, police; the Cortland Community Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
No apparent help, and Chuck had been stuck for perhaps a day. He was yowling.
“I’m not OK with this,” Daniels said Thursday, when she returned with her tractor-trailer, a ladder, some lumber, several children and a trailer full of goats. She met Murphy on the side of the road, and other helpers, too.
“Is he friendly?” Daniels asked Murphy.
“He’s friendly, but he’s scared,” Murphy replied. “He’ll probably hiss at you.”
Daniels and Murphy, with the help of Daniels’ daughter, 10-year-old Kylin, and 13-year-old Miranda Murray, tried to perch the ladder on the top of the truck’s trailer, but it couldn’t reach Chuck.
They leaned the ladder against the tree trunks and honeysuckle and took turns climbing it with a piece of lumber to give Chuck a bridge to them, and safety. Kylin, the smallest of the crowd, crept to the top and pushed the lumber toward Chuck.
“These kids are always doing something to help someone,” Daniels said.
Still, Kylin just drove Chuck farther out on the branch.
Chuck had pluck, but Chuck was still stuck.
Meanwhile, the SPCA wasn’t idle, said Bill Carr, the SPCA’s chief law enforcement officer. However, the SPCA isn’t equipped and its staff isn’t trained for rescues of this nature. It once contracted with someone with a bucket truck for just such an emergency, but that person was no longer available.
Firefighters, Carr said, don’t like to risk being late to an emergency where a person’s life or safety is at risk for the sake of a cat.
So the SPCA started making calls to tree services. It took a while.
On the roadside, Daniels, Murphy and the others had been trying for nearly three hours to get Chuck out of the tree. No dice. They were ready to despair.
But about 5:30 p.m. a truck from Carter’s Tree Service of Cortland arrived, sent by the SPCA.
Chuck met truck.
Chuck’s no longer stuck.