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Today is May 23, 2022

Mississippi Seen

Getting the Cat into the Bag

By Walt Grayson

Getting the Cat into the Bag

About this time last year, I was asked to be the host of the annual Volunteer Mississippi GIVE Awards. Pretty much every kind of meeting or ceremony at that time was done virtually. So, my “hosting” consisted of reading a script off the teleprompter at Mississippi Public Broadcasting while they recorded it and put it online later. I never met the
winners. Nor did any of us get the usual banquet meal that normally
accompanies such affairs.

I was impressed by all the recipients’ stories. By far the most unusual awardee was Bob Reese of Starkville. He was selected to receive an award for a service he provides — rescuing cats. Reese rescues cats that have inadvertently climbed a tree without an exit strategy.

All cats can climb. But not all cats can UN-climb. Sometimes cats are stuck up there for days without food or water.
Bob says it is not true that every cat will eventually come down on its own. Some may die of starvation, dehydration, or
exposure. So, someone must go up to haul them down.

Bob became a cat rescuer after his pet made a venture up a tree.
He tried to find a cat rescue service but couldn’t. So, he did what all of us do when we are faced with a daunting task. He pulled up a YouTube video.

Bob, being way more adventurous than I am, then rigged up some ropes and a harness. He hoisted himself high up into the branches
and gathered his wandering pet into a waiting pillowcase and lowered himself and the cat safely back to the ground.

But, as it sometimes happens after one has accomplished a one-of-a-kind task, Bob Reese wanted to do it again. And again. And again, and again. Now, several hundred cats later, Bob is still harnessing up in his now professional climbing gear, pulling himself up the rope into the
dizzying tops of oaks and pines, and helping someone’s frightened
feline back down to terra firma.

Bob doesn’t charge for his services but asks the people he has helped to donate to a nearby animal shelter. He has raised thousands
of dollars in the process.

Bob says he will travel up to three hours from home to perform
his service. He has been all over north Mississippi, Alabama, and into Tennessee climbing to nose-bleed heights, grappling with uncooperative pets, and returning them to grateful owners.

I, on the other hand, still prefer to stand on the ground under the tree with a bowl of cat food in hand, looking up and calling, “Here kitty, kitty.”

Just a quick postscript. Since last year, Bob has moved to Huntsville, Alabama. (He wanted to be near his grandkids.) But he still rescues cats. He has allowed me to put his phone number in this article. If he can’t come help you, he knows other cat rescuers in Mississippi who can.

But try, “here kitty, kitty” first.

Bob can be reached at 662-418-0479.


Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at

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