I've told you before about Boston - our family cat. About her never flagging ferocity and just plain nasty temperament. But we've all gotten used to that and in a strange sort of way even find it endearing.

So we take care of her and even cuddle her on those rare occasions when she allows it.I felt better about it after I watched a National Geographic special about cats that freely compared the house cat with the tiger of the jungle. That helps to explain the constant fights Boston has with neighborhood cats.

I started to think we were pretty lucky, and anyhow, this cat has personality.

We must care about her or we would not have gone to the incredible lengths we did on Sunday to try to rescue her from the neighbor's roof.

We still have no idea how she got up there.

We just happened to notice in looking out the window that she was wandering all over the roof trying to figure out how to get down. In sheer distance to the ground, her best hope seemed to be the back yard - but there was a large black dog waiting for her there.

So she ruled that out and kept checking out the other three sides of the roof. Clearly, she was growing more agitated and found no place where it looked possible for her to climb down.

Undoubtedly, we would have been smarter to let her fend for herself. But our deep-seated compassion got the better of us.

So we all went outside with a ladder and placed it at the front of our neighbor's garage. Fortunately, Dave Young is an amiable soul and as comfortable on roofs as he is on the ground. So he immediately volunteered to climb up and try to get her.

When we warned Dave about this cat's unpleasant disposition, he grabbed a piece of turkey to use as an enticement. Then he calmly followed Boston all over his roof, trying to pick her up.

It was not to be. When he got close, Boston hissed and showed her teeth.

Marti, who was standing at the top of the ladder, almost got her once but Boston was no more friendly to her.

So there was the cat racing around the roof - more agitated than ever - while Dave followed her, Marti waited at the front end of the house, and Whitney, the black dog, waited at the back end - and all our kids yelled words of encouragement.

To make matters worse, the wind was blowing fiercely, making both Dave and Boston more nervous than otherwise. Just as we were thinking that we would have to leave this crazy cat to her own devices, she made an irrevocable decision.

She found a place where there were no people and she just jumped off. It was a beautiful arching drop to the pavement below with a light and easy landing.

Although she had been worried about jumping, she evidently found the harassment on the roof to be more intimidating than the long leap.

It reminded me of the long but successful jump into the river in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - a frightening prospect that became the only alternative once Robert Redford and Paul Newman were surrounded by lawmen.

While we all sighed and got Dave down from the roof, Boston walked into the house, a little frazzled, but physically in top shape. It was the most interesting adventure our quiet neighborhood had seen in a long time, but our cat was not amused.

Nor was she grateful for our attentiveness and deep interest in her welfare. She just cowered in a corner and looked at us with fire in her eyes. She was not even sure that we meant well.

That's OK. At least we know now that she is capable of dealing with even the most threatening danger. It is we who suffered from naivete.

Yesterday I saw her on another roof - of a tall shed at another neighbor's yard - and my blood pressure didn't even rise.

Boston may look like just an ordinary house cat, but her heart and soul are in the jungle.

Just ask National Geographic.