At the Lake: Storm may convince cat to leave tree

A multicolored cat without a collar climbed a tree Wednesday night, got stuck and still was there early Thursday night. At least one visitor to South Lake Tahoe is worried the feline may not survive the approaching winter storm.

"We're going to be buried soon (with the storm), and I don't know what to do," said New Jersey resident Frances Matolyak.

Matolyak is staying at the Lake Tahoe Inn and said she could hear the cat meowing all night. The cat is in an aspen tree at Fawn Way, behind the Budget Inn and Lake Tahoe Inn.

She said she called the fire department, the Humane Society and the senior center to see if anyone could help rescue the stranded feline. Though she received sympathetic responses, the logistics of removing the cat prevented the rescue.

"This seems so heartbreaking," Matolyak said.

She also called tree services, but she didn't have enough money to pay for their work.

Mark Wygant, a South Lake Tahoe Fire Department firefighter/medic, initially took Matolyak's call. He said fire department personnel arrived at the scene and tried to coax the cat out of the tree with a can of food - but to no avail.

Wygant explained the department could not use their ladders to get the cat, because it would be unsafe for the crew. The cat's aspen tree is between power lines and closely built houses.

Wygant said he has quite a few years of experience with cats stuck in trees, and this cat most likely will come down unharmed. The fire department does not have a procedure for cats stuck in tall, hard-to-reach places, he explained.

"We don't have a cat-in-the-tree policy," Wygant said.


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