We'd read on the web that some people recommended bringing a backpack up the tree and getting the cat to go inside, then lowering it down on a rope. I suggested using a cat carrier instead. We've got a soft-sided carrier that I bought to transport Moly on the plane, and it can be loaded from the top. Ken got up on the patio wall, but there wasn't any way to climb the tree any farther, and that left us a good ten feet short of the cat.
The next idea -- which I'd actually thought of, but sort of hesitated to suggest, until Ken brought it up himself -- was to try to sort of pulley the carrier up to the cat on the rope. We looked for something small but heavy to tie to the end of the rope, to help Ken toss it up and over the branch the cat was on. I finally came up with a wrench that had a hole in the handle. Several tosses later, it actually went over the correct branch. I opened the top of the carrier, tied the rope around the handles half a dozen times as tightly as I could, and put a bowl of stinky canned food inside. Ken pulled it up, wedging it as tightly to the branch as he could to try to keep it stable. The cat was interested -- stinky food, hadn't eaten in a day -- but very hesitant to do anything.
After a few minutes, she stuck her head into the carrier, but kept her hind feet stubbornly on the branch. Yeah, she was stealing the bait. Dammit. Several times she looked like she might go farther, but she kept pulling back. I couldn't really blame her; I'm sure the carrier didn't feel very stable.
Then we couldn't tell exactly what she was doing -- she was getting closer, but since she was directly overhead we couldn't see quite how far she'd gone. I ran upstairs, checking from the bedroom window, and held my breath when I realized her hind feet were actually on top of the carrier. If she tried to pull back out, she'd be in danger of falling. If we jostled the carrier a little, she might tip in... or might jerk back and go flying. We waited. Waited. Waited. I wished I'd put more food in the dish. One hind leg went in... all she had to do was shift her weight all the way in, please please please... and she did it.
I ran back downstairs and Ken began to very, very slowly lower the rope. At one point he needed to nudge the carrier with a stick to keep it from catching on a branch. Then it was within reach, and I had her, and she let me hold her and scratch her until she purred. Beautiful. I managed to put her down long enough to get her another bowl of food. We sat outside for a while, petting her and considering what to do. Having rescued her once -- and what would have happened if she'd gone up someone else's tree? and how damn lucky were we? -- it seemed safest to bring her inside.
And so we did.