In late May, a cat named Gryffyndor became stuck on top of a live electricity pole in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. Fortunately, her family spotted her, with the result that the local emergency services were called in. They had to turn off the power to about 100 homes for about 5 minutes. However, local emergency services were able to rescue Gryffyndor within that time, thus resulting in a happy ending.
Why Was It Necessary to Turn Off the Street’s Power?
Theoretically, the local emergency services could have attempted the rescue even without turning off the power. In practice, that would have been very foolish. After all, electricity can be very dangerous, which is why interested individuals should always avoid coming into contact with it unless they have the right expertise, experience, and equipment for the task at hand. Unfortunately, people don’t need to be exposed to a lot of electricity for bad things to happen. For those who are curious, 1 amp is the electrical current when 1 volt is applied to something with 1 ohm. However, even exposure to mere milliamps is capable of causing serious issues within a matter of moments. One milliamp is the point at which people can sense an electrical current while five milliamps is the maximum that people can tolerate without being hurt in the process. Once the electrical current hits 10 to 20 milliamps, people can expect sustained muscular contraction, which tends to cause them to clench their fingers into fists. Something that can make it rather difficult to extract them from the situation.
By 100 to 300 milliamps, people can expect ventricular fibrillation, which can prove fatal unless stopped. Exposure to 6 amps is when people can expect their respiratory function to become paralyzed. Never mind the potential for electrical burns. Summed up, exposure to an electrical current of sufficient strength can have catastrophic consequences because of its effect on a person’s muscles. If they are lucky, they will get away with just being unable to control their muscles for a while. In contrast, if they are unlucky, well, suffice to say that both their heart and their diaphragm are muscles. Electricity doesn’t even need to paralyze these muscles to cause fatalities. For instance, it can send a heart into a state of fibrillation, meaning that it flutters rather than beats. Since people are reliant on their heart to pump blood throughout their body, this is not a state that people want to be. As such, while turning off the power was an inconvenience, it was very much necessary for the local emergency services to carry out the rescue.
Why Does This Kind of Thing Happen Anyways?
In any case, it is very common for cats to become stuck on high-up locations because said species is so fond of climbing. Simply put, the wild ancestors of cats were predators that could be predated upon. Thanks to this, a lot of their behaviors were meant to help them out with both catching prey and avoiding being caught as prey. For example, cats are crepuscular, which enables them to prey upon a wide range of crepuscular species while avoiding a number of notable predators that are more active during different times of the day. Similarly, cats like to climb because it serves multiple purposes. One, it enables them to reach other species that are good at climbing. Two, it enables them to escape the reach of other species that are not so good at climbing. Three, it enables them to look out at their surroundings, thus enabling them to take in more information in an instance than otherwise possible. Something that has critical for boosting both their chances of hunting prey and their chances of avoiding being hunted as prey.
The problem is that cats aren’t necessarily good at judging whether they can get down after they have climbed up. Sometimes, this happens because of something in the moment. For instance, a cat might scramble up either a tree or something similar if they get spooked by either a dog or some other potentially threatening animal. Unfortunately, just because they have climbed up something, it doesn’t mean that they can climb down that same thing. This is particularly true because cats are literally built in a way that makes them better at the former than at the latter. Other times, a cat can just misjudge the situation. After all, it is very much possible for them to be either inexperienced, overweight, or a number of other things that can impair their capabilities in this regard, thus increasing the chances of them making a mistake.
What Should People Do About This Kind of Thing?
Regardless, cat owners have a number of options for handling such situations when it happens to them. For starters, they can see if the cat will leave the tree on their own, particularly once they have received some assistance in this regard. One potential form of assistance would be removing anything in the vicinity that might make the cat uncomfortable, thus encouraging them to stay high-up. Other potential forms of assistance range from putting out some food to using a laser pointer to trace out a potential path leading down to the ground.
Unfortunately, this won’t always be enough. Interested individuals can leave cats along for a short period of time to see if they will come down on their own. However, there is a serious limit to how long they should wait. After all, cats need to eat and drink, meaning that if they stay high-up for too long, their physical condition can deteriorate. Furthermore, some cats are more vulnerable than others, meaning that they need intervention sooner rather than later. One example would be young cats that are just physically weaker than their mature counterparts. Another example would be overweight cats as well as other cats that are in poor physical condition. On top of this, external conditions should also influence the decision to intervene, with an excellent example being expected bad weather.
In any case, once interested individuals choose to take more drastic action, they should call for professional assistance. In some places, local emergency services are willing to help. However, there are plenty of places where local emergency services will not. If the latter is true, interested individuals should contact either animal control, veterinarians, or animal welfare organizations to see if one of these can point them in the direction of someone who can help out with their particular situation.