BANGOR, ME -- Little Mischief, a black-and-white cat who was stuck in a tree for four days, caused more than its share of mischief on Saturday morning when a would-be rescuer needed to be rescued himself from the branches 30 feet above Charles Street. Bangor Fire Department firefighters used a ladder truck to rescue both the anonymous man and the cat, although its policy is to let cats descend to safety by themselves.
"We don't go get them," Assistant Chief Vance Tripp said Sunday afternoon. "Cats will come down out of the trees eventually. You don't see any skeletons of cats up in trees."
Some of the rescue onlookers said they didn't think the cat could come down on its own, given the amount of time it had spent in the cold.
"I didn't figure that it would be able to come down even if it wanted to," Ohio Street resident Chris Goll said Sunday. "I figured its joints would be frozen."
The indoor cat escaped from its owner Lauren Economy's Ohio Street apartment Wednesday morning.
"The last time it snowed, the winds blew my door open," Economy said. "When I woke, my living room was full of snow and my cat was gone."
Economy, 20, said that the four days Little Mischief spent perched as high as 60 feet above the ground were difficult for her.
"I didn't really get much sleep," she said. "I could hear him yowling overnight."
Economy said the would-be rescuer, a neighbor she couldn't identify, had heard her crying Friday night as she tried to coax the cat down.
"I've got a soft spot for cats," the man said just after he was brought down to safety by Lt. John Prentiss and firefighter Joe Doucet.
The man had climbed about 30 feet up in the hardwood tree to save Little Mischief before he, too, became stuck in the branches.
"He got his knee bent between two branches and his foot was stuck, too," Economy said. "He couldn't move up or down."
She called the Fire Department, which sent the ladder truck to rescue him about 10 minutes later.
Tripp said the man, whom the Fire Department would not identify, would probably not be liable for any of the cost of the rescue, which the assistant chief estimated at between $750 and $1,000.
"It's hard to charge anybody for being caring," he said. "There's a lot of people who do crazy things and don't really think them through."
Area animal lovers said they were disappointed no agency stepped forward to help the stranded cat.
"We called the Fire Department, the humane society, the Police Department, Bangor Hydro and a couple of tree service places, and nobody would help," Goll said. "A guy from the Fire Department said that cat rescues take their time away from other, more pressing needs. I suppose a cat in a tree for four days doesn't mean much."
Tripp pointed out that his department had been directly responsible for saving five human lives on Friday, including three from a fire on Center Street, a toddler who had eaten methadone, and an elderly man who had died but was brought back to life by the rescuers.
Despite the cat-rescue controversy, Economy said Little Mischief seemed glad to be home safe, sound and warm.
"He got treats, he got lots of food, he's gotten lots of cuddles, he's gotten lots of spoiling," she said. "He's on my lap right now ... he's purring quite loudly."