Anyone who has a cat knows that the species’ defining characteristic is predictable unpredictability. At least once a day, you know your otherwise calm cat will turn on a dime and race around the house, diving under the couch or into the bathtub—but you never really know when. And anytime you pet Fluffy, you know in the back of your mind that this could be the time she’ll chomp the shit out of your hand. Basically, you can never let down your guard, because when you do, BAM, you get a swipe across the face.
In other words, you can’t prepare for the unpredictability, but you’re never surprised by it. Unless you’ve never met a cat. Or you’re an idiot. Or a small baby.
So it’s with that in mind that we delve into episode five of Treetop Cat Rescue. (No double-dip this week, which may bode well for the series. I was beginning to think that Animal Planet was trying to burn through all 10 episodes as quickly as possible because even the suits who gave this guy a show were getting wigged out by Shaun’s, uh...unique personality.) We open on Shaun’s house in North Bend, where he receives a call from a woman in Ravensdale about Tigger, who’s stuck 65 feet up. And Tigger, we learn, has taken to the trees before.
Apparently this is a common occurrence for the boys from Canopy Cat Rescue, who proceed to tick off the names of a handful of repeat offenders. “Tom and I aren’t going to turn someone down who needs this service, just because they’ve needed it before,” Shaun tells the camera, which is nice because refusing to pull a cat out of a tree for any reason would be kind of weird considering that, you know, pulling cats out of trees is your job.
The rescue itself is rather uneventful. Tigger is 65 feet up and the tree’s relatively weak, so rather than rely on its branches to hold his rope, Shaun opts to climb with spikes. And then the wind kicks up and in typical reality show fashion much fuss is made about the added element of danger—“Our trees will bend 30 degrees,” Tigger’s owner ominously tells Tom down on the ground—but we’ve already seen enough in the previous four episodes to know there’s not an atmospheric condition that will stop Shaun from cuddling with a cat. Also, the wind doesn’t seem to be an issue when, 55 feet off the ground, Shaun whips out a GoPro and selfie stick to reminisce about the last time he saved Tigger. (About these so-called “repeat offenders”—has anyone considered that they go back up the tree because they didn’t want to be saved in the first place? Maybe it’s the family, and not the tree, that they need to be saved from.)
Anyway, after Shaun inevitably grabs Tigger (we’re going to need another cat to fall on a fence post pretty soon to inject some drama into these rescues) the cat’s owner thanks the pair—and then hints at the possibility that this they’ll have to come back again. Like I said, predictable unpredictability.
Tom is without question the star of this episode. In addition to a short segment in which the Canopy Cat Rescue crew visits his daughter’s elementary school for a demonstration (he enlists his daughter’s help, which, ugh, is so like a dad to do), he flies solo on the second rescue. He also demonstrates his questionable deductive reasoning skills by assuming that the stranded party “should be a pretty nice cat,” based solely on the fact that his name is Fritter.
Short aside here: Tom lives in Olympia and supposedly has a full-time job as an arborist for the city. This particular call comes from Bremerton, which is more than an hour away. And even though the cat-rescuing duo accepts donations, they don’t charge a dime for their services. So for all of my jokes about Shaun’s feline obsession and Tom’s fat shaming, these dudes deserve some credit for being dedicated to saving cats. Okay, moving on.
Fritter’s owner warns Tom when he shows up that the kitty can be a little “skittish,” but nothing seems to be amiss as the cat-loving arborist starts to climb. In fact, Fritter tries to climb down as Tom approaches and even lets his rescuer scratch his head. But then—and this could be another example of feline unpredictability or it might have something to do with the fact that Tom asks Fritter not to pee on him—the cat hulks out without warning once Tom has him in hand. Thrashing, growling, hissing, spitting—basically Tom wishes the worst thing he had to worry about was a little urine. But he’s a pro and deposits Fritter in his cat-calming net for the descent, after which Fritter’s weirdly monotone and seemingly unconcerned owner hugs him—while he’s still in the net.
And though it’s a happy ending, and maudlin music plays as cat and owner are reunited, we’re left with this image, of Fritter looking at Tom. To the uninitiated, those eyes may appear to say, “That really sucked. I’m so thankful to be on the ground.” But to those of us who scoop poop out of a litter box every day, they clearly say, “One way or another, tree boy, I’ll get you. And you’ll never see me coming.”
Until next week!
More Treetop Cat Rescue: