Neighbors Question Rescue Protocol After Cat Leaps From Palm Tree

Neighbors Question Rescue Protocol After Cat Leaps From Palm Tree


Palm Springs, CA

A beloved pet stuck in a tree 60 feet above the ground. "We think it was chased up by a coyote," said neighbor, Pamela Stegeman. The meowing cat made for a confusing and chaotic morning on Via Sol in Palm Springs.

"We called the fire department first, which took us to 911 who said we don’t deal with this sort of thing," explained Brandon Worswick, the cat’s owner. "The fire department said we don’t do this anymore. Animal control, (they’re) very nice guys, but they came over as well and said there’s nothing we can do about it either. I even tried to send in the bat signal to superman."

Unsure of who could help and when the community banded together to rescue the cat named Monte.

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Pamela provided the bag. "I have this emergency bag that I had gotten for my cats in case of a fire or something; when you have to grab an animal and get out immediately," said Stegeman. Neighborhood tree trimmer, Jose, climbed up the tree.

In a moment of panic, the frightened cat jumped from the tall palm tree.

The neighbors rushed Monte to the hospital. "The current status on Monte, amazingly , he jumped out of a 60 foot palm tree and no broken bones, no nothing, flying like a squirrel," said Worswick. "He just got a little lung contusion and a little brain hemorrhaging; right now he’s blind." Monte is being monitored around the clock at a local animal hospital, a true testament that cats somehow find a way to land on their feet.

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However, the incident raises concerns for the neighbors who still wonder who to call on should another pet be in a similar situation. 

Riverside County Animal Services say they don’t usually respond to cat in tree calls, unless another agency asks them to help. We were however able to get a statement from the Palm Springs Fire Department, " Fire departments do not routinely rescue cats from trees.  Our services are based on emergencies and in the majority of cases, a cat in a tree does not constitute an emergency.  Cats will climb trees to escape a threatening situation – they are quite adept at climbing “up” but typically need to calm down from their situation before they figure out how to climb “down”.  A group of concerned humans standing around the base of the tree, or pole only serves to add to the cat’s already high anxiety level and delay their decent."

The statement went on to say, "Does this mean that the Palm Springs Fire Department does not conduct animal rescues? Not at all! Based on the circumstances and working with the professionals at the Palm Springs Animal Control, we will commit our resources to affect animal rescues; cats stuck in walls and dogs stuck in fast moving flood waters have been conducted by our crews.  In addition, all of our fire engines contain special pet air masks that allow us to provide pure oxygen to animals in distress as a result of a house fire.  These devices have been utilized numerous times to resuscitate dogs and cats affected by smoke inhalation."   

Palm Springs Fire Department officials did share photos with us of a successful cat rescue they did a few months ago. A cat was stuck in a wall and crews cut out a piece of the wall and saved the cat.