Kitty saved from tree

A 10-year-old girl was reunited with her pet kitty on a frigid day last week, after St. Paul Firefighters came to the rescue to remove it from a tree. (photo courtesy of Lisa Andrews)
A 10-year-old girl was reunited with her pet kitty on a frigid day last week, after St. Paul Firefighters came to the rescue to remove it from a tree. (photo courtesy of Lisa Andrews)

Firefighters block Minnehaha to prevent cat-sicle

On a particularly frigid January day, a small, 6-month-old gray tabby cat named Foxy was inspired to escape out the front door of its home in the 900 block of Minnehaha Avenue.

Somewhat predictably, the cat ended up climbing a nearby pine tree. The tree, says the cat's owner, was like a larger version of the Christmas tree the cat and its sister had been climbing around in inside their house for the past few weeks.

The cat's owner, Brittany Guinn, a mother of two with a third child due in a matter of weeks, couldn't do much about it except hope the cat would come back down. Her 10-year-old daughter, the cat's biggest fan, was quite sad about this reality, and cried intermittently beginning Thursday night.

Come Friday, the cat still hadn't shown up at the front door of the house. Guinn and her kids could hear the cat meowing in the tree, even from inside, but they couldn't see it. Even the cat's sibling noticed, and was meowing back at its sister from the front window of the house. Guinn decided to ask for help.

She says she called the police and the fire department, but they told her, "This isn't the movies."

From there, she called the Humane Society. No luck. A veterinarian. No luck. Her friend posted about it on Facebook, asking for help.

That's when things started happening. The next day, Saturday, Jan. 9, Guinn got a call from Lisa Andrews, a cat lover who'd just moved out of the East Side to Elk River. She offered to come by and try to help, possibly even by climbing the tree. With a cold front coming, Andrews and Guinn worried the tiny cat might become a cat-sicle in the sub-zero temps.

While Andrews was there, two men came by with a thirty foot ladder and tried to reach the cat. They couldn't reach it.

Sensing that hope and time seemed to be running out for the itty-bitty feline, the 10-year-old girl began to cry.

"We were all desperate," recalls Andrews.

So, she decided to go out on a limb and stop by the nearest St. Paul Fire Department building, Station No. 7 on Ross Avenue, just a few blocks away.

She rang the buzzer, and pleaded with the firemen. John Rule, captain of the station's Ladder 7, the station's ladder truck, was sympathetic. Once the group saw the photos Andrews had taken, indicating there were no power lines, they agreed to help.

About ten firefighters came out to the house, parking two trucks and partially blocking Minnehaha Avenue. They got right to work, with a long ladder extending high up alongside the pine. Two firemen climbed the ladder, looking around the tree, and listening. They spent about ten minutes up there without any luck, when finally they heard a faint "meow."

They traced it up to near the top of the tree — Rule estimates it was up about 50 feet. They went up.

Immediately, the cat crawled warily out along the branches, evidently unaware of the precariousness of the situation, onto fireman Pat Larson's shoulders. 

"I was thinking the cat was going to claw Pat's face off," says Rule, but, the cat behaved.

Foxy remained on his shoulders as he climbed down the ladder. When they got to the bottom, Larson handed the cat to Guinn's 10-year-old daughter, who embraced her and wrapped Foxy in a blanket.

"I've never gotten a cat out of a tree. I've never heard of anybody doing it. Neither had anyone else," remarks Rule. "Cat out of a tree is definitely a new one for us, to actually go and get it out of the tree."

Guinn says she's relieved the cat's safe, the kids are happy, and the incident's over.

"I was surprised that there are people that care this much," Guinn says. To have her young children experience the death of their pet cat "would have been really sad," she says.

Now, the cat's back to its usual antics.

"She's fine. She acts like she was never even up there," Guinn says. "I just look at her and I'm like, 'You don't even know all the trouble you've caused.'"

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLarkMn.

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