The contact said her sister’s cat had been stuck on the roof since yesterday, the fire department and “20 rescues” waved her off and the cat was “going to die” unless something was done. Ok, unless you pull a fire alarm (don’t!), a ladder truck full of firemen is not likely to respond to a call about a cat (Sorry, ladies…). Second, while not recommended, a cat can survive for a couple of days without food and water so there's no need to panic when one misses a meal. Finally, cats can usually figure out how to get down from a tree or roof—they got up there—and will bounce up from a 20-foot drop like you or I would from 2-3 feet. But the address was around the corner, it sounded like easy heroics and for once I was dressed for the gig. “See you in 20 minutes.”
I loaded an extension ladder into the truck and recruited Chris Rolbiecki who saw the upside, “I want to be there when you fall from a roof holding a cat…” and agreed to ride shotgun. Onsite, we confirmed that the apartment manager was cool with guys who should not be climbing on the roof climbing on the roof, and after a slow, profane ascent up the fully-extended ladder, I rolled onto the hot tar paper, hauled up a carrier and set about securing the target. Uh, no. After a few minutes of terrifying shuffles between HVAC units and having Matias dash along the edge of the roof to calls of “Jump!” from below—“Him? Or me?”—I was nowhere. I called to Chris to get a trap and sat down to wait for his return.
As Facebook loves to remind me, my Labor Days weren’t always spent chasing fluffy brats on hot roofs or driving trucks filled with cat litter. I’ve spent a few early September weekends at Burning Man (“I’m just going for the art…”) and another hosting a beach resort we built in downtown Fresno. But those Memories were 4, 5, 6 and 11 years ago, respectively, and this was now. When Chris returned with a trap, I hauled it up and set it, slid back to the ladder, felt my way over the edge to the rungs (the worst!) and headed back to work to wait for the call.
A couple hours later the “Hey…the cat is in the trap” text popped up and Chris and I rendezvoused back at the site. A tequila shot from a guest at work made the climb back up the ladder much easier but lowering a 10-pound cat in a trap with nylon rope from a slippery roof was no gimme. I laced the rope through the sides of the trap to keep it somewhat level, wrapped the slack around my forearms, lay back on the roof and pushed the trap toward the edge with my feet. As Matias got close to the abyss, I wondered if the sudden tug of gravity would confirm everything the actuary who reviewed my life insurance application had predicted. But it didn’t, and in moments, Matias safe on the ground and reunited with his relieved mom.
In 2025, Facebook will remind me that my 2022 Labor Day spent crouched on a hot roof with a cat throwing me stink-eye was nothing to post about, but until then I will and hope you enjoy the pics! Matias.