As one who is an unabashed admirer of cats, telling this story is somewhat painful. This is a true story which happened during the late 1970's. My wife has firsthand knowledge of the circumstances since, at the time, she was a police officer in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred.
There is a small rural town, somewhat northeast to the city of Niagara Falls, NY. One evening, a resident of the town called the local volunteer fire department to request assistance in removing their cat from a tree. Since this was a "questionable" call, the fire control dispatcher called the fire chief at home to ask if he wanted to respond. The chief said sure, call out the department, since it was early evening and it shouldn't be a problem for the volunteers to respond.
The fire department responded with a rescue truck which had an extension ladder. The tree, however, was too tall and willowy to support the weight of the extension ladder. Rather than send men back to the fire hall to bring the aerial ladder truck, one of the firefighters suggested an alternate course of action. Two of the firefighters supported the ladder while a third climbed high enough to tie a rope around the tree at about half its height.
The other end of the rope was tied to a trailer hitch on a pickup truck, with the truck slowly driven forward, forcing the tree to bend over. One firefighter was poised to grab the cat as soon as it was within his reach.
The knot securing the rope to the trailer hitch slipped free.
The cat was last seen airborne heading south toward the city of Niagara Falls, and was never seen again.
This incident adds a rather new definition to the word "catapult."
Needless to say, the particular fire department did not receive praise from the local ASPCA when the story made its rounds. Please note that this story is not meant to put down volunteer fire departments, who perform a dedicated and essential community function.