When a two-man line crew out of PG&E’s Fresno yard got a call about a cat named ‘Fat Boy’ who had been stuck on the top of a utility pole for over a week, they weren’t sure what to expect. But knowing that cats can be finicky creatures, they assumed that the feline might not be too excited to see a couple of linemen encroaching on his space.
“In all the videos I’ve ever seen online where there’s a cat up a pole, they always bolt before anyone gets a chance to grab them,” said Lineman Porter Caradine, a five-year member of Local 1245. “They’ll see someone coming, and then launch off the pole from 40 feet up, hit the ground and just run away. So we figured that might happen.”
But their actual experience with Fat Boy the cat was nothing like what they had anticipated.
On the Scene
According to local news reports, after their cat was scared up the pole by a neighbor’s dog, Fat Boy’s family contacted numerous agencies to help them retrieve their beloved pet. But since the animal had chosen an energized, high-voltage pole as his hiding spot, ensuring his safe return required a skilled crew from PG&E.
“We were actually about to go out to a routine job when we got the call about this cat stuck on a pole,” said Caradine. “So we had to change course and head over to where the cat was.”
When Caradine and his colleague, Electric Crew Foreman Dave Alvarez, arrived on the scene, a crowd had already gathered, comprised of Fat Boy’s family, neighbors and others who had heard about the poor feline. Local news reporters were there as well, along with a member of the Fresno City Council, who had come by to witness the cat rescue. Apparently, during his protracted stay up on the pole, Fat Boy had become something of a local celebrity.
Initially, Caradine intended to climb up by himself, but he was a bit nervous about physically handling the feline, due to his limited experience with cats. However, Alvarez is a cat owner himself, so the two decided that Alvarez would be the one to serve as ‘cat wrangler.’
The linemen rigged up a cat carrier with some rope, so they would have a place to put the cat in order to get him down. They de-energized the pole, Caradine grounded the line, and then Alvarez went up to grab Fat Boy, who was perched at the very top.
At that point, most cats would have jumped. But since poor Fat Boy had been trapped at the top of the pole for nine days, it appeared that he simply didn’t have the energy to even attempt his own escape.
“I think if he had only been up there a day or two, it might have been a different story,” said Caradine. “But he had been up there for so long, and we could tell he was exhausted. Just wiped out. So tired.”
Better Than Expected
Everyone was worried that the cat might try to claw or fight his rescuer, but Fat Boy actually seemed relieved to see help arrive. He didn’t struggle at all, and Alvarez was able to easily grab the cat by the scruff and put him in the carrier. As they used the rope to lower Fat Boy to the ground, the whole neighborhood erupted in cheers and applause.
“It went way better than we thought it would,” said Caradine. “I’m really happy it worked out the way it did. People were yelling, ‘You guys are awesome!’ It was a really nice moment.”
Once he reached the ground, Fat Boy was immediately given some wet food and an injection to help him recover from dehydration. His family was thrilled to have their cat back, and the linemen were happy to have the chance to do a good deed for a grateful family and their beloved house pet.
videos via KRON4 and The Telegraph
–Rebecca Band, IBEW 1245 Communications Director