Lewis County PUD Saves a Cat, Prevents Power Outage


Raven is a lovely, fluffy black cat.

Unlike actual ravens, when he found himself atop a power pole in Adna, Raven the cat could not fly down. Plus, his climbing abilities align with the reputation of other cats: He is better at scaling things than he is at descending them.

Ken and Julie Wiseman got a knock on their door on Monday afternoon from a stranger who asked them if the cat atop the power pole down the street belonged to them. The couple hadn’t seen their cat, Raven, in a few days. But that was typical for them, said Ken Wiseman, a longtime grocery checker at Safeway. Their four male cats often wander over to the neighbors’ homes to spend time with them, so they hadn’t been worried.

When they walked to the pole about 100 yards up the road from their place, there was Raven at the top, panting and meowing in the afternoon heat, stressed and dangerously close to the power line.

Ken Wiseman said the cat was walking back and forth along the wooden cross arm and sparks were flying as the cat’s fur neared the line.

The next pole over has a transformer that brings power into the Wiseman’s home. If Raven had climbed that one, he likely wouldn’t have made it to the top alive, let alone back down.

At first, the Wisemans called Lewis County Fire District 6, their local station. While they wanted to help, the station said there was too much liability taken on when sending a firefighter up to the top of a power pole. Nearing the live wire was simply too dangerous.

The station gave the family the name of a cat rescue service, but the duo decided to call the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) and let them know they planned to have someone try to rescue their beloved Raven.

Within a few minutes, PUD staff who had been on state Route 6 were on the scene. The same risks weighed by the fire station — such as the cat touching the line while touching one of his saviors, thereby electrocuting them or the cat jumping on the line and causing an outage, among other things — made them decide to turn the power line off.

“You know, it wasn’t the old lady ‘Oh, woe is me,’ it was, ‘We got a cat and it could be a problem.’ That’s the way they looked at it,” Ken Wiseman said.

Julie Wiseman added: “It was more of an emergency because we’d have an outage if he hit the wire.”

Within about five minutes, the cat was rescued and returned to his owner’s arms, and the power was back on moments later.

“The best part about it is they were not like, ‘Oh not this again.’ Not even remotely. They were very professional. It was like, ‘Oh my god, if that was my cat,’ that kind of thing,” Ken Wiseman said.

Lewis County PUD Energy Services Specialist Jacob Henry said this is a rare instance, and in general they encourage others in a similar situation to call 911, and local emergency responders can determine whether to call the PUD.

“Getting the animals down safely is no easy task as their reactions are unpredictable to the workers trying to help,” Henry wrote in an email. “Sounds like this was a great outcome for everyone involved, especially the cat! … Lastly, we always encourage customers to call the PUD outage line whenever an outage exists.”