This article originally appeared in The Inquirer on Jan. 27, 1998.
VOORHEES, N.J. — For more than three days, a wailing cat clung to the top of a 70-foot tree in the Three Pond development, frustrating firefighters and waking neighbors.
The cat, a 2-year-old calico named Daisy Mae, refused to come down when rain pelted her orange-and-white fur on Friday or when snow coated it on Saturday.
She wouldn't come down when five trained firefighters brought out their best equipment.
And she stood unwavering when concerned neighbors shot off rockets and firecrackers, called her name, and banged on the bottom of the tree.
But what neighbors, nature and trained firefighters couldn't do, a 13-year-old boy could.
Yesterday, David Gorman shimmied up the tree, grabbed Daisy Mae, and dropped her safely to the ground.
"Thank God for youth,” said Jean Dubro, a neighbor. “The firemen did everything they could, we did everything we could, and none of us could come up with a way to get it down. Sometimes it takes the next generation.”
Daisy Mae scampered up the tree on Friday, neighbors said. Her owner, Pamela Westbrook, was in the hospital at the time.
“At about 11 p.m., we shut the TV off and we heard this loud wailing,” said Linda Grafton, a neighbor. “We went out there with a flashlight, looked up, and there she was.”
Grafton called the Voorhees Fire District, which advised her to wait and see if the cat came down on its own. When the cat was still in the tree Saturday afternoon, the district agreed to try to rescue it, Grafton said.
The volunteers brought out a 40-foot ladder, the largest ground ladder in the department, said Deputy Chief Mark McCloskey.
“We had a firefighter go up the ladder, but when he got to the very top, the cat went higher up in the tree,” McCloskey said. “The decision was made at that point not to put a firefighter at risk. Usually what we tell people is if the cat went up there, the cat will come down.”
The firefighters advised Grafton to contact the township's animal-control officer. The officer came out and said there was nothing he could do, Grafton said.
Grafton, concerned that the cat would starve or freeze, was frustrated. So she rented a ladder.
“We couldn’t reach her either, so we left the ladder against the tree to help her get down,” Grafton said.
On Saturday night, Westbrook, the cat’s owner, returned and tried to convince Daisy Mae to come down, but she wouldn’t budge.
“We thought that she was going to die,” Westbrook said yesterday. “She had climbed trees before, but never that high, and she never stayed up so long.”
Neighbors continued their efforts to rescue the cat on Sunday, to no avail.
David, Westbrook’s nephew, was in the neighborhood yesterday to visit his recovering aunt. When he heard about the cat’s predicament, he immediately told his father he wanted to climb the tree. “My dad wouldn’t let me, so I did it when he wasn’t looking,” David said.
After David pulled the cat off the branches, he dropped it to a neighbor below, who was using her coat as a safety net.
The whole thing took about 10 minutes.
“It was no big deal," David said.