Hank the cat’s 5-day ordeal in tree is over — thanks to a group effort

It sounds cliché — a big group joining together in Northeast D.C. to rescue a cat from a too-tall tree.

But that’s exactly what happened over the course of five days, when Delores Bushong’s beloved cat Hank climbed a bit too high.

“Having found no other option, we had to get creative,” said Samantha Miller, a spokesperson for the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C..



The HRA worked for the first few days, but found it difficult to get Hank the cat down safely. For five days and four nights, the feline found himself 50 feet above the ground.

“I can only imagine how agonizing it was for Hank to be stuck 50 feet up in a tree without food or water and in direct sunlight for five days and four nights,” HRA vice president for field service Chris Schindler said.

The tree’s location and stability was the primary cause for concern, as rescuers wouldn’t be able to climb the tree or reach the cat using a ladder or fire truck.

Hank 50 feet high, trapped in a tree. (Courtesy, Human Rescue Alliance)

Hank finally caved when he was offered what rescuers called “Hank’s Party Pack” — a collection of treats and clothing with Bushong’s scent — and brought down using a basket-and-rope system.

HRA field services staff; neighbors who offered ladders and changed dog-walking patterns; and staff members from Casey Trees, a nonprofit environmental group that’s focused on caring for trees in the D.C. area, all assisted in getting the cat down.

Schindler acknowledged just how important these people were to Hank’s safe return.

“Hank’s successful rescue was undoubtedly made possible by the dozens of community members who worked together to help reunite this family,” Schindler said.

Bushong said she was glad to live in D.C., to have her cat back on the ground, and for the community’s ability to come together and bring this story to “a wonderful ending.”

“It brought the community together in a way that was amazing and allowed me to see just how many people would go out of their way to save this animal,” Bushong said.

Hank is back home, in his favorite chair, after five days and four nights trapped in a tree. (Courtesy, Human Rescue Alliance)

Editor’s Note: WTOP admits a bias toward wonderfully heartwarming stories like these, animals in general and cat protagonists. Digital writers at WTOP are unsure of the cat’s total number of lives at this time, with writers Will Vitka and Jack Pointer commenting “Hanks for the memories,” a reference to the popular Fall Out Boy track.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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