She’d set out for the swamp with the hope of seeing some rare birds. As she surveyed the scene, though, she noticed something quite different to any cormorant, crane or bald eagle. And this thing was stranded on a tree stump surrounded by water and crying for help; clearly, then, she had to take action quickly if she hoped to save it.
That creature was spotted, moreover, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Harvey hit the U.S. with a vengeance in 2017, destroying whatever was in its path in many parts of the country. In fact, it even caused the highest property damage of any tropical cyclone ever recorded. With that in mind, Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, got off fairly lightly.
Yet although Baton Rouge escaped the majority of the storm, Harvey left recurrent rain in its wake for days. The downpours weren’t too heavy, however, and the deluge certainly wasn’t enough to deter outdoor hobbyists. And one of those people with a penchant for wildlife is a woman called Chantal.
Chantal and her husband are both enthusiastic bird-watchers, in fact, and the rain didn’t end up dampening their passion for their shared hobby. Indeed, the weather conditions were part of why Chantal was visiting a favourite birding spot – a swamp in Louisiana – in August 2017.
Chantal was particularly curious to see what effects Hurricane Harvey had had on the birds in the nearby area. She thought that there was a possibility that the storm had caused some rare species to head for Louisiana, for instance. But while she didn’t spot any uncommon birds on her trip to the swamp, she did nevertheless see something out of the ordinary.
But Chantal heard the creature before she saw him, as it had been his pitiful noises that had drawn her attention. Then, after a 20-minute search, she finally found the source of the commotion. The cries were coming from a Siamese cat; the poor creature had somehow got stranded out in the swamp.
In order to assist the troubled feline, then, Chantal made a call to local animal shelter CARA’s House. And not only did she give a report of the situation and details of her location, but she also included pictures of the cat. In turn, the shelter contacted animal rescuer Randall Kolb, a.k.a. the Cat Rescue Guy.
“I was not sure how I was going to handle this rescue,” Kolb would later write on his blog. “The pictures I saw showed standing water in front of the trees. But I could not see the backside, and I had no idea how deep that water was.”
And Kolb also reasoned that the weather was indicative of how long the cat had been stranded – especially as the area the animal was in only became swampy in heavy rain. “The cat was probably in the tree at least four days, possibly longer,” he added in his blog post.
As a consequence, the cat was in desperate need of assistance. So, Kolb and his wife duly set out with what little water-rescue gear they had and headed for the swamp. And despite the severe spread of the water, it didn’t take long to pin down the feline’s rough location.
However, while Kolb and his wife could hear the cat’s cries, they couldn’t see the animal. The meows sounded like they were coming from everywhere and nowhere, for one, while conditions at the swamp made the search even harder. Then, finally – after a quarter of an hour and with the help of Kolb’s binoculars – they struck gold.
In fact, it turned out that since the cat had been photographed by Chantal, he had moved on to a different location. Unfortunately, though, he was still stranded. “I suspect that the cat fell out of the tree into the water,” Kolb explained in his subsequent blog post. “[He probably] climbed up on the stump after the bird-watcher left.”
Kolb added in his recap of the situation, “So now, for my first time, I have a cat that is stuck in a tree only a few feet off the ground.” And while Kolb didn’t therefore have to climb a high tree to reach the poor animal, he did still have to wade through potentially dangerous water to get hold of the kitty and bring him to safety.
“I grabbed a stick to use for balance and to flick away any snakes,” Kolb said of what he did next. “Or to poke an alligator away from me.” And armed with the piece of wood and a pet carrier, he made his way towards the hysterical, crying cat.
“Now that I was close enough, I was especially impressed [by the cat’s long] fangs,” Kolb’s post continued. “The upper ones were exposed when his mouth was closed. It was a rather menacing look, though that does not show well in the video.”
And as a result of the animal’s fearsome teeth, Kolb nicknamed the cat Chomper. “He was clearly very stressed,” Kolb went on in his blog post. “But, as I usually do for tree rescues, I offered him a… can of food.” That offer was turned down – but after a little coaxing on the part of Kolb, the Cat Rescue Guy eventually lived up to his moniker.
Indeed, thanks to Kolb’s reassuring manner and cat-whispering skills, Chomper tentatively climbed into the carrier, and the pair made their way to dry land. Then, when they were back on the road, Chomper was taken to CARA’s House, where he was checked for a microchip.
And during Chomper’s stay at the shelter, it was revealed that the cat’s original name was Artemis and that he’d been adopted from the SPCA in Georgia. Furthermore, the cat was estimated to be five or six years old. Unfortunately, though, all efforts to contact his owner were unsuccessful. In addition, there were no lost pets reported missing that matched his description.
“I am always very slow to assume that a homeless cat has been dumped,” Kolb would later explain on his blog. “But that appears to be the most likely explanation in this case.” So, while Chomper waited for his forever home, he was sent on for care at the Whiskers Animal Benevolent League shelter in Albany, New York.
Still, even after Chomper had been rescued and looked over, there were many unanswered questions about his origins. “The complete story will probably always be a mystery,” Kolb concluded. “Regardless, Chomper’s future is looking much brighter now. I am sure he will be adopted and given a loving home where he will be valued and comfortable.”