Fire crews battle to rescue pet cat in Billingshurst drama

Fire crews leapt into action yesterday to try and rescue a pet cat that had been stuck in a tree in Billingshurst for five days.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 4:41 pm

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s technical rescue unit was joined by an RSPCA official in a bid to free the stricken pet called Pepsi.

The crew, along with retained firefighters from Billingshurst Fire Station, were mobilised to the scene off Broomfield Drive at around 2pm after missing cat Pepsi was spotted 40 foot up the tree.

The ginger tom had been away from home for seven days, and is thought to have been stuck up the tree for at least five of those days.

Cat rescue attempt in Billingshurst SUS-200716-161802001

Rescue unit crew commander Charlie Eastwell said: “The owner did the right thing in calling the RSPCA who alerted us, rather than trying to climb the tree themselves.

“We would much rather be mobilised to help rescue a cat from a tree than deal with the consequences of someone falling from height trying to effect a rescue themselves.

“When we arrived Pepsi was clearly quite distressed, and was not interested in coming down at all, despite being away from home for such a long period of time.

“We used the crane on our Unimog to lift one of our crew members into the tree to try and rescue Pepsi.

Firefighters attempt to rescue cat Pepsi stuck 40 feet up a tree SUS-200716-161838001

“We spent a good couple of hours with him trying to calm him down and gain his trust, but he wasn’t having any of it.

“So we had to resort to plan B. We installed one of the RSPCA’s humane cat traps in the tree, with a dish of cat food in there to lure him in, and planned to return first thing this morning to see if it had been effective.”

Not long after the crew had left last night, a local tree surgeon who had heard of Pepsi’s plight put their own working from height skills into action and scaled the tree and managed to retrieve him safely, and he has now been reunited with his owner.

Charlie added: “If you see an animal in danger, we would always encourage you to contact the RSPCA in the first instance and they can advise on the best course of action.

Attempting to rescue Pepsi SUS-200716-161908001

“Cats are far more nimble up a tree than we are, so we would urge people not to put their own safety at risk by trying to rescue the animal themselves.”