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Inwood Residents Rescue Kitten Stuck in Tree

By Carla Zanoni | June 21, 2012 8:31am

INWOOD — Neighbors banded together online and in person in a two-day effort to save a kitten that was stuck in a tree in Isham Park this week. 

The group of Inwood residents spotted the gray striped kitten after a neighbor spotted it up a thin-trunked tree at the southern end of the park on Monday.

Passersby saw the cat and made several attempts to bring it down the tree, including placing a can of tuna fish at its base overnight, but that cat could not be coaxed down.

“Cats aren’t lizards,” said Inwood resident Dara Finkel, 33. “They can easily climb up trees, but have a hard time getting down.”

Two attempts to remove the cat with a net and a stick, the first by a Parks employee and the other by a local building superintendent, only resulted in the cat climbing further up the tree. 

Calls for help to 311, the 34th Precinct and the FDNY were unsuccessful when they were told no resources were available to help.

Finkel said she and the group were surprised to learn that the fire department cannot help with cats stuck in trees, especially considering the amount of 1950s televisions shows that portrayed firemen carrying the small critters down from fire truck ladders.  

“Apparently not anymore,” she said. “That’s only in the olden days, because they can’t be stuck rescuing a cat if there is a fire.” 

When the group was unable to find a city agency to come help, they reached out to Cat in a Tree Rescue, an online group of arborists in Westchester who volunteer to help coax kitties down from their leafy perches.

Within minutes, the anonymous from New Rochelle arborist gently poked the cat twice with a long stick, helping it drop to a lower branch and then a second time, dropping it onto a large blanket a group of six neighbors had stretched out beneath the feline. 

“I think we were all so shocked it fell on the sheet that we all stood there holding the sheet out as it scrambled away,” Finkel said. The cat appeared healthy and unharmed, she added. 

“We’re hoping that the cat doesn’t get into too much trouble,” said neighbor and city high school teacher Sheilla Mijanou Arias Antola, 31. “We’re on the lookout for it now.”

Although neighbors collected $75 to pay the arborist for his time, he refused the money and asked the group to donate it instead. The group donated the funds to the Mid Hudson Animal Aid, a nonprofit no-kill cat shelter. 

“I was touched with how many people rallied around this cat,” Mijanou Arias Antola said. “I know it’s a cat, not a human, but people really cared. It made me proud of Inwood, especially with so much attention on crime and other things in the neighborhood these days.”