Two men from different states that have never met each other have one thing in common: they both rescue cats trapped in trees.
Todd O’Neill of White Plains, New York and Marc Matthews of New Haven, Connecticut both are tree cutters, but they also use their skills to help bring down cats that are stranded in trees.
O’Neill (pictured here) is a tree surgeon, so he climbs tall trees that rise above homes and takes down dead limbs and branches. In the past ten years, he has also used his talent to rescue cats stuck high in trees.
“I’ve rescued about 40 or 50 cats from trees, and one pit bull puppy,” he said. “Most people don’t know that pit bulls can climb. This guy was about 20 feet up.”
His first act of heroism was when a neighbor’s cat was stuck about 50 feet in a 90-foot-tall oak tree. The cat had been stuck in the tree for a couple of days, and the fire department told the neighbor that they didn’t rescue cats from trees. So, the neighbors asked O’Neill if he could help.
He strapped on his tree harness, put a rope over a branch, and started climbing. A few minutes later, the cat and O’Neill were headed back to the ground.
O’Neill doesn’t charge for saving cats. He said he gets the occasional cake, cookies or baked goods as a token of appreciation.
He said he has rescued cats that were as high as 60 feet up. O’Neill added that mostly cats are pretty easy to take down, but he has been clawed, scratched and bitten a few times. He said once he got a claw right in the mouth. But he doesn’t worry because he keeps his vaccinations current.
O’Neill said his cat, Simon, is just like him. He climbs curtains, chairs, and anything else he sees.
Matthews also has his own tree removal business and rescues stranded cats at no cost. He said most fire departments won’t rescue cats, and some tree services do it but they charge.
He passes out fliers about his cat rescue service to animal shelters and veterinary services. Word has gotten around the community about Marc’s Cat-in-a-Tree Rescue Service.
Matthews has even climbed up an 80-foot-tree to rescue a cat.
“There is a real need for this and I think itâ€™s wonderful that instead of charging (for the service) heâ€™s donating to animal rescue organizations,” an animal shelter worker said. “Iâ€™m sure if the word gets out, heâ€™ll be very busy.”