There was a purrfect ending yesterday for a wayward cat stuck up a palm tree in a suburban garden for 10 days and nights.
Last night Georgie was back home after his escapade, walking casually back in the kitchen window like nothing had happened. The black and white feline went missing last Wednesday, and his owners, mum and daughter Karen and Katelyn Page, had just about given up on seeing him again.
"I was pretty upset because he's my favourite cat. I rescued him when he was a tiny kitten," Karen said.
"He's my little baby," Katelyn said.
All that time, Georgie had been stuck just around the corner. Residents Pritika Patel and her husband Sushil first heard strange noises coming from their tree in Mangere, Auckland, a week ago.
Two days later they noticed a cat sitting on a branch and called the Fire Service, who couldn't find anything.
More visits from the Fire Service and SPCA followed, but still no one found the mysterious moggy.
"We could hear the cat at night but it kept vanishing into the leaves during the day so we kept thinking it had got itself down," Pritika said.
"When it appeared again yesterday we took photos because the firefighters were looking at us as if we were both on something as they couldn't spot it themselves."
The Patels don't own a cat and had never seen the animal before. "It must have been pretty scared, hungry and tired after being stuck there for so long.
"It kept us awake for several nights with the noise of it moving about but, come the morning, we just couldn't see where it had gone to."
Georgie was rescued yesterday afternoon when a three-man team of arborists from Tree Fellas and an SPCA officer arrived to poke around in the tree with sticks.
Within minutes, the shy moggy broke cover but rescuers missed catching it by a whisker. "It suddenly leaped from the tree onto the roof of the house and took off before we could get to it," arborist Apii Ruaporo said. "It took us an hour and a half to get it out of its hiding place, then it was gone in a flash. I've no idea how it stayed up there for so long."
After his 10-day famine, a skinny but clearly relieved Georgie spent most of his first night back home eating.
- Additional reporting Mohamed Hassan and John Weekes