the Tree Cat
In the hollow of a maple tree not far from the road,
Ron Venden has made a cozy dwelling for the 7-month-old
cat he swears has never left its
"It was a little feisty at first," said Venden, 66, a retired carpenter,
of the cat, which a neighbor has named Almond. "(But) now it's a pretty
big cat and it's just loving to see me."
How is Venden certain the cat never leaves? Mostly because
there are never any paw prints around the tree when it snows,
Venden explains — something
a State Journal reporter confirmed Wednesday. Relatives corroborate the
story, saying they've never seen it anywhere other than in the tree.
Almond doesn't seem fazed by snow or single-digit temperatures. He sits
proudly in his roost, warm in a thick fur coat, surveying nearby Highway
X and Venden's driveway, about five miles south of Belleville in Green
To Venden's knowledge, Almond has no other home outside his maple. The
cat was born there in June, and while the mother and the other kittens
left, Almond stuck around. Venden has been feeding it ever since.
So why does Almond stay?
"I think it's because I'm treating it too good," said Venden, who at
least twice a day climbs a ladder about 12 feet up to check on and feed Almond.
He's also made a protected straw bed for the cat in a hollow of the tree, set
up a dry cat food feeder and provides daily deliveries of fresh food, which Wednesday
morning included a bowl of salami, meatloaf and milk.
"I kind of enjoy it," Venden said of caring for Almond, although he
admits: "The neighbors think I'm goofy."
Patrick Comfert, Dane County's lead animal services officer, said Almond's
habits are unusual.
"We have all gotten our share of cat-in-a-tree calls, but we've never known
one to stay up there forever," he said.
Those concerned for Almond's welfare can rest assured: Because
the cat is grown, has a space where it can be protected from
wind, and is fed
regularly, "it should be fine" even in frigid conditions, Comfert
And Almond doesn't seem keen to relinquish his tree-living tendencies.
"I've tried to bring it down a couple times and it starts scratching," Venden
Venden, who raises chickens on his hobby farm south of Belleville in
Green County, was never a big cat lover before Almond.
"In his younger days, I would have never, ever, ever pictured him getting
so attached (to a cat) in my life," said Tammy Sias, Venden's daughter,
who helps feed Almond when her parents are away.
"It's an amazing story," she said. "(The cat) actually has no
desire to come out of that tree."
Sias, who lives outside of Belleville in the town of Primrose,
said the tale of her dad and Almond is known throughout town,
where people will
often ask, "How's your tree cat today?"
(More pictures of Almond and a video can be found here.)