Sometimes it takes more than “here kitty, kitty.”
Just before the sun began to rise on Oct. 18, firefighters with Freeport Fire Department responded to a call from a woman whose kitten was stuck in a tree overnight.
“We went out and the little kitty was up there, and you could see where she was trying to come down because she was scared,” said responder Terry Raffield Sr.
Raffield has been a Freeport Fire Department firefighter since 2009, but has been a firefighter for 34 years. He works part time with Freeport and volunteers on his days off.
Firefighter James Whedon was the one who went up on the ladder to save the kitten, and firefighter Forrest Melvin assisted with Raffield to keep Whedon safe by holding the ladder.
The firefighters used a 24-foot extension ladder to rescue the kitten in the pine tree, which Raffield estimated to be about 30 feet up.
“The ladder was just about five feet short getting to her,” he said. “We had Whedon go up and coax her down a little bit.”
The drama began five days prior to the rescue when the Siamese kitten showed up in Judy Wiemar’s neighborhood. None of her neighbors knew where it had come from.
Wiemar took the kitten to the vet, had her de-wormed, tested and cleaned, while planning on keeping her. The veterinarian estimated the three-pound kitten to be about three months old.
“I named her yesterday; I called her Libbi,” she said.
Wiemar said she had to leave the kitten outside at night because she didn’t want her dog to go after it. Rather than hunker down for the night, the cat headed up, up, up a pine tree in Wiemar’s back yard.
After finding the kitty in the tree, Wiemar first tried to lure her down by coaxing her with food.
“She wanted to come down, but she kept losing her grip … it scared her,” said Wiemar.
That’s when the Freeport Fire Department saved the day. And while helping to save the kitty’s nine lives, Raffield admits that this wasn’t the fire department’s first cat rescue.
“Human life is, of course, more important and if we would have had an emergency, we were ready to go,” said Raffield, adding that there were two other firefighters back at the Freeport station ready to cover any calls.
Since Libbi and Wiemar’s dog proved to be poor roommates, Wiemar gave her up to an emergency room nurse that she met at a grocery store a few hours after the rescue.
“I was going to try to keep her, but my dog decided she looked more like a squirrel than a cat,” said Wiemar. “To avoid her getting eaten up, I had to find her a new home.”
Soon after that, Wiemar brought the fire department doughnuts Thursday afternoon.
“It turned out real well,” Raffield said. “The cat was safe — no harm done.”