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Who will rescue a cat stranded on a power pole?

Calico kitty perches precariously high on a power pole over Nipomo.
Calico kitty perches precariously high on a power pole over Nipomo.

Over 26 years ago, this cat was out of luck when it acted to stereotype and got stuck 35 feet above the ground next to hissing power lines.

Today, pets are often treated as extended family by their humans. It would be curious to see if people these days would respond the same way to this forsaken feline.

From the Nov. 28, 1987, Telegram-Tribune, Dan Parker reported on the perils of a pole-sitting cat:

Scaredy cat risks nine lives high above Nipomo

A pole-sitting record may have been set this week in Nipomo.

By a cat.

For at least 80 hours, in temperatures that dipped into the 30s, the calico mix sat on top of a power pole at the Nipomo Swap Meet, 35 feet above the ground and scant inches from 12,000 volts of kitty cat oblivion.

Sympathetic onlookers called firefighters, police and the electric company, but no one would try to get the cat down.

Susan Folkerts, co-owner of the swap meet, said she first noticed the cat at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The cat had scrambled up the pole probably because it was trying to escape a pack of pursuing dogs that guard the 263 N. Frontage Road business at night, said Folkerts. The cat may have been up there as early as Sunday, she said.

Folkerts started making phone calls to try to get the feline down.

But no one she called Tuesday would do it.

It goes against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. safety policy to get cats down from power poles, said company spokesman Bob Nozicka. "One doesn't know what the cat will do if the serviceman gets up there," Nozicka said. "(The cat) could jump on the serviceman or he could jump on the wires and get electrocuted."

However, Clyde Walthall, a PG&E spokesman in Sacramento, said "(the company's) policy is to get the cat down." Walthall said he didn't know why local PG&E officials decided against rescuing the cat.

Department of Forestry firefighters wouldn't do it because it could take firefighters away from "true emergencies," said CDF Capt. Walt Embree. "Our primary mission is the protection of life and property — human life and property," he specified.

Cats will come down from trees and power poles when they get hungry, Embree said. "To be quiet honest, I don't know of anyone who has found a cat skeleton in a tree or on a telephone pole."

Sheriff's Department and county Animal Control don't have the right equipment to get a cat down from a power pole, said sheriff's Sgt. Gary Hoving. Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo would not do it because it is too dangerous, Hoving said.

Folkerts didn't know what to do after all those rejections. So she didn't do anything for a few days, hoping the cat would get down by itself.

But the cat stayed. It paced back and forth on a cross arm at the top of the pole and plaintively mewed, but few people noticed. The swap meet is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Finally, on Friday, someone called a tree surgeon who agreed to try to get the cat down.

But within an hour after that Folkerts noticed the cat had disappeared from the top of the pole. She said she believed the cat gave up on human help and crawled back down itself.