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Cat retrieved from Rimrocks by rappelling rescuer

Cat retrieved from Rimrocks by rappelling rescuer

From the People go to great lengths to help animals series
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The Schreiber family's cat Dougal has been climbing bigger and bigger things lately, according to her owner Jodi Schreiber.

But on Tuesday, she graduated from trees and scaled the Rimrocks, reaching a perch about 15 feet from the top of the rock formation.

That's when Dougal must have had some doubts. 

Through a chance encounter with Patrick Riedl, a local arborist who rescues treed cats on the side, Dougal got down safely after a rope rescue Wednesday afternoon. 

Dougal and her littermate Tigger were let out of the house Tuesday morning by Jodi Schreiber and her 12-year-old twin sons, Ryan and Kyle.

The cats go out every morning but return to the Lohof Drive neighborhood at around 10 p.m., Jodi Schreiber said.

On Tuesday night, Tigger came home. Dougal was a no-show. 

Jodi Schreiber stepped out onto her back porch and peered into the darkness. She heard loud meowing coming from somewhere on the Rims.

Ryan went out with a flashlight and scanned the Rimrocks until the beam caught something bright shining near the top — Dougal's eyes. 

The twins and their mother set out the next day in their car for the top of the Rimrocks, hoping to find a way to get Dougal down.

They loaded a basket with some of the cat's favorite treats, tied a rope to its handle and lowered it to Dougal's perch. She wouldn't take the bait.

Jodi Schreiber said her son later pointed out that it's their dog's basket. Dougal and the family dog are not friends.

Though Dougal is a climber, Tigger also has a mischievous side. Last year, the cat hitched a ride on a UPS truck down to the neighbor's house, Ryan Schreiber said. 

After the treat basket failed, the family then tried to walk up the Rims below her perch and explore their other options.

On Henry Street nearby, Riedl was working with his partner to fell a beetle-killed Austrian pine. 

The cat's meows and the sight of the Schreiber family prompted Riedl to investigate.

Riedl said he's been rescuing cats in trees for decades, and since moving back to Billings seven years ago he's been getting about 20 calls a year. 

But Wednesday was the first time he was ever asked to rescue a cat from the Rims.

It was fairly standard nonetheless, Riedl said. He and his partner drove a truck onto the Rimrocks above the spot and tied a 300-foot rope to two trees before he began rappelling down the rock face. 

He called out softly to Dougal as he got closer to keep the cat calm, before he grabbed her and continued to the family standing below. 

Holding his cat safely in his arms, Kyle admonished the cat gently. "That's enough mountain climbing for one lifetime," he said.

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