TO THE RESCUE: Live Oak crew helps return kitten stuck overnight in tree

Published 1:56 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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NATCHEZ — This cat-up-a-tree story has a happy ending, and the hero is Natchez’s Dick Thompson.

Thompson, owner of Live Oak Nursery, Garden Center, Tree Service and Live Oak Construction, on Thursday morning came to the rescue of Mary Louise Millican and her five-month-old cat, Fluffy, who had been stuck 40 feet up in the top of a large tree in her neighbor’s yard since at least Wednesday morning.

Millican, 84, said she was so distraught she could hardly speak and cried and cried most of the day and night on Wednesday, she said.

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“I fed the kitten on Tuesday night, then I saw the little kitten take off down the driveway, following the other cats,” she said.

Fluffy has a sibling, Millican said. His name is Brownie. Fluffy and Brownie are the product of a stray cat who came to Millican’s home to have kittens.

Millican has taken care of Fluffy and Brownie, who spend time indoors and out, since they were born. She had Fluffy spayed in March and plans to have Brownie neutered this month.

When Millican checked on her cats Wednesday morning, Fluffy was nowhere to be found.

“I went outside and heard a cat hollering, but I couldn’t figure out where it was,” she said. “I heard the cat hollering all day long.”

She and her neighbor, Keli Traylor, searched for the cat in the wooded area near their homes on Live Oak Drive in The Trees subdivision, but couldn’t find it.

“My neighbor called me at about 10 p.m. and told me she saw the kitten. I went over there and there it was, way up in the tree. It was so scared and was crying and crying,” she said.

Millican went inside and called the Natchez Fire Department on John R. Junkin Drive.

She said she talked to the lieutenant on duty, who told her he could not come out at night and put his men at risk, but told her to call back at 7:30 a.m. the next morning and he would send firefighters out to get the cat.

“I got up and at 7:30 I called and they told me the lieutenant was gone. He wouldn’t be back that day,” she said. “I fully understood them not coming out at night, of course. But he shouldn’t have told me to call back when he knew he wasn’t going to be there. He promised me he was going to come and help rescue my cat if I called him on Thursday morning.”

As it turns out, the city’s fire department no longer is allowed to use its equipment or staff for things like getting a cat out of a tree, Millican was later told.

Millican then called the Natchez Police Department.

“A very sweet woman told me she would get the animal control officer to contact me and he was at my house at 8:30 a.m. He came right away,” she said. “He told me I was going to have to get a landscaping company who has the proper equipment to come and help me get the cat down.”

That’s when Millican remembered her friend Dick Thompson.

“He did some work out here one time and told me if I ever needed help to give him a call and he would help me,” she said.

So Millican called Thompson, who stopped by her house to check out the situation at 9 a.m.

By noon, Thompson had his truck and crew at Millican’s home, working to get Fluffy out of the tree.

The only hiccup was, when the workers got close enough to put their hands on Fluffy, Fluffy leapt out of the tree.

“I knew she was going to do that. She was so scared,” Millican said.

Despite the 40-foot jump, Fluffy was none the worse for wear.

“She ran out from under some bushes and scooted back across the street to my house,” she said.

“Dick Thompson was Johnny on the spot. He told me he was not going to charge me anything, but asked me to make a $100 donation to the Humane Society. Next week, I will donate $100 to the Humane Society. And I’m going to have them sign something so I can take it to Mr. Thompson and let him know I did so.”

Since her rescue, Fluffy has spent a lot of time inside in Millican’s lap.

“I know she was traumatized. And her sibling missed her, I can tell,” she said. “I am very thankful I have friends who are willing to help me.”

“Mary Louise has been trying frantically to find someone to help get her beloved pet out of the tree when Dick Thompson with Live Oak Construction came along to save the day,” Traylor said. “Fluffy was very hungry and very happy to be reunited with her owner who was even happier!”