Neighbors band together to rescue cat from tree ordeal

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BRATTLEBORO — For six days, Josey the cat was stuck up a tree in Edward Heights.

Neighbors banded together to find a solution, which proved elusive.

"Everybody has been trying to get a hold of different people," said Cindy Patneaude, who owns the tree the cat scurried up last Saturday. "Two gentlemen from the Brattleboro Fire Department came by today, but they don't have a bucket that can go that high and the ground is too soft for the ladder truck."

Patneaude said she became aware of the cat a few days ago when she was shoveling her driveway. She could hear meows, but couldn't pinpoint where they were coming from.

"I started having people coming by my door, saying there's a cat up your tree," she said.

Kat Macie was one of those neighbors. She began posting online, looking for help.

"I posted on Facebook, asking the community for help to see if we could get a tree climber out here."

That's when Holly Tippett jumped into the fray. She suggested Silas Filgate, who owns and operates Arborgates Tree Service in Guilford.

"He did some work on a sycamore tree during the summer," said Tippett. "He doesn't use heavy equipment. He just climbs the tree like Spider-Man."

"He's done this before," Patneaude said.

Filgate arrived around 11:30 a.m. Friday with a backpack and chest full of ropes, carbines and belaying gear. He prepped his gear and climbed the 30-foot ladder, but the cat was another 30 feet above where the ladder ended. Using ropes and spikes strapped to the bottom of his shoes, he shimmied up to the cat's location, cooing and whispering. For about 10 minutes, he spoke to the cat, which meowed loudly.

"I brought my backpack to carry the cat down with," Filgate said, after the cat was safely out of the tree and in a pet carrier. "I thought my best bet would be to have her attached and close to me.

"But she didn't want to get in the bag. I tried coaxing her a couple of different times. She finally got into the bag but then wanted to get out. So I realized she wanted to be close to me, so I just put her inside my jacket."

Filgate said the cat didn't scratch or claw him.

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"But I'm covered in cat hair. Good thing I'm not allergic."

Josey was brought to the Windham County Humane Society, where executive director Annie Guion said the cat was doing "fine, eating and drinking" Friday night. Neighbors declined to name Josey's owner. Guion is unsure if the cat will be put up for adoption. Normally, there is a five-day waiting period before a stray animal is made available to adopt.

Filgate, who grew up in Guilford, started his career with the tree company Asplundh.

"I was on a crew that specialized in climbing trees and in danger trees," he said. "I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie."

But Filgate's tree climbing career began before that.

"When I was 3 years old, my dad put me in a tree and I've been climbing ever since," he said.

This is not the first time Filgate has rescued a cat from a tree.

"Sometimes the cat comes down on its own," he said. "Sometimes you have to help them down."

Filgate didn't charge the neighbors for his services.

The neighbors said besides saving the cat, another good thing came out of the adventure.

"I have lived in this neighborhood for six years and I have seen faces I have never seen before," said Patneaude.

"It has brought the neighborhood together," said Macie, who, in her spare time, creates soaps under the moniker Kat's Creations. "We're going to have a get-together now that we all know each other, maybe have a cookout in the summer."

To contact Filgate, call 802-258-7469.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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