Cat stuck in a tree?

Image of cat in tree crying
It happens all the time.  All cats are natural tree climbers, but when it is time to come down, some cats know how and some don’t.  Those that don’t know how to come down are truly stuck.  They will stay in the tree until they find the courage to jump, fall, or are rescued.

Don’t let your cat suffer any longer.  If you are in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, give me a call or e-mail.  I will rescue your cat, and it won’t cost you a penny.

I rescue cats for free because I love cats, I hate suffering, and I don’t want the cat to suffer just because someone can’t pay.  Besides, I am retired, so I have the time, and this does not take me away from a paying job.  This is one way in which I am uniquely suited to reduce suffering, and it gives me great joy to do so.

It is very important to me that people know that I will rescue their cat even if they can't afford it.  For this reason, I refuse any offer of payment even though I am very grateful for the gesture.  If you want to give something, I encourage you instead to make a donation to Cat Haven or any other animal welfare organization of your choice.

Not in My Area?
If you are not in the Baton Rouge area, then be sure to check this Directory of cat rescuers all over the world.  Chances are good that you will find someone there.  If no one is listed for your immediate area, do not be afraid to call the ones closest to you.  You may be surprised to learn how far some of the rescuers will go.  Otherwise, they still might be able to help you find someone in your area.  Failing that, call your local tree service companies.  Many do not want to be bothered with cat rescues, but they still might be able to direct you to someone.

Rescue Philosophy
There are many ways to rescue a cat, and my goal is to do so in the least stressful manner possible.  Every cat is different, and every tree is different.  All rescue options will not be suitable in every case, but I will escalate to the next stress level only when the lower ones have failed or been deemed unsuitable.  In the end, however, even a stressful rescue is much better than none at all.

Randall descending cedar tree
I like to enlist the cat’s cooperation as much as possible.  Not only is that easier on the cat, it makes my job easier as well.  I will use food to entice the cat to come closer to me or inside a carrier.  Most cats that have been stuck in a tree for a day or more are very food-motivated, and many will readily walk into a carrier to get it.  Some cats are so tired of being in the tree that they readily come to me begging for rescue without my enticing them with anything at all.  But not every cat is so cooperative.  Some will cooperate if I give them enough time to get used to me and see that I am not a threat.  However, some cats, especially feral ones, may not cooperate at all and instead climb higher in the tree.  Even so, I still have ways to rescue them.

I love cats, and I love trees too.  I climb trees using ropes and professional climbing methods that do no harm to the tree.  I never use spikes; I don’t even own them.

Why Do I Do This?
First, there is a need for it.  Cats continually get stuck in trees, and there are very few people who are willing and able to help.  In some areas, there is no one who will rescue the cat, and people and their cats suffer needlessly as a result.  I do it to help fill that void and reduce that suffering.  Also, remember that when I rescue a cat, I am also rescuing at least one person as well.  Sometimes, I rescue a whole family, including the children.  The people who love the cat are often suffering more than the cat is, and it feels very rewarding to me to return that cat to their arms and relieve their suffering.

Several years ago when I first saw videos of people rescuing cats in trees, I was deeply touched.  To see a helpless cat suffering and in desperate need, and then to see someone not only notice, but also care about this small, conscious creature and do something to end his suffering....  That is a beautiful thing.

Please consider watching this slideshow of my favorite images from my first 100 rescues, and I think you will understand just how meaningful and important this is both to the people and their cats.

Rescue Stories
Below this section are the stories of my two most recent rescues.  For these and all the other individual rescue stories, see the Rescue Stories page.  For a general overview, consider these yearly compilations of the best moments from all my rescues.

Rescue Highlights of the Year




Ginger and her daughter, Amber, live near Folsom, Louisiana in a beautiful rural setting surrounded by natural wooded areas.  They have two beautiful, large cats who are litter-mate siblings: a gray tabby male and Peaches, a female torbie.  The cats spend most of their time in what was formerly a child's playhouse but is now a full-time cat house.  When Peaches failed to show up for her usual sunset feeding time, Ginger and Amber became worried.  They began looking for her and heard her crying in the wooded area next to their house.  It took a several minutes before they were able to find her up high in a large live oak tree.

Peaches was clearly distressed and trying to come down, but she kept trying to come down head-first which, of course, does not work.  They tried everything they could think of to help Peaches down.  With difficulty, they dragged a ladder through the woods and propped it up against the tree, but they could not get close enough to Peaches.  They called the fire department which suggested that they spray her with water from a hose.  Bad advice.  That just caused Peaches to climb higher.  They worked with Peaches till 2:00 AM before reluctantly giving up and going to bed.  Sleep, however, does not come easily when you're distressed and can hear your beloved cat crying for you.

By morning, Amber found me by searching the internet, and Ginger called me.  I packed up and began the hour-long drive out there.  When I arrived, I met Ginger and Amber, and they led me to the site.  They had already worn a path through the woods on the side of their house to the tree that held Peaches captive.  At the far edge of the woods was a large live oak tree, and Ginger pointed up to Peaches where she was standing and crying in a fork about 30 feet high as indicated by the yellow circle in the picture.  Just on the other side of the tree was a barb wire fence and a pasture of cattle.  Several cows came over close to us to watch as the rescue took place, and you will be able to hear them clearly in the video.

I set up my rope with little trouble, and, while I was doing so, Peaches actually climbed down her steep branch about five feet to the next fork.  From there, she climbed down to the next branch at the red circle in the picture.  At that point, the stem was almost vertical, and Peaches could go not down any farther.  I began to climb up to Peaches.  From the way she was acting, I was expecting her to be friendly, and I was very relieved to see that she actually was happy to see me.  She sniffed my hand and readily let me pet her.  She was perfectly comfortable with me, so this rescue should be easy unless I make a big blunder.

After we made friends and exchanged pleasantries, I gave her a chance to go into the carrier.  She looked but did not go inside.  So I opened a can of food and let her have a bite.  She was mildly interested, so I put the food in the back of the carrier and gave her another chance to go inside.  She stepped her front feet inside, but could not quite bring herself around to pulling those back feet in too.  I gave her several chances to do it, but it became clear that she was not going to do it.

I put the carrier away and began preparing the bag.  While I was doing so, she stepped onto my lap.  We visited there a minute while I contemplated bringing her down that way.  She was relaxed and the ride down would not be a problem, but I prefer to use two hands to control my descent, and I wanted Peaches contained at least until we got out of the woods.  So, with her resting comfortably in my lap, I gently grabbed her by the scruff and lifted her while I pulled the bag around her.  She took it all in stride without complaint.

I came down and handed Peaches over to Ginger.  I followed them out of the woods to the cat house and released her inside there.  Peaches was a little agitated at that point and needed some time to understand where she was and calm down.  After a minute, she settled down and rested while Amber petted her.  After a few minutes of that, Peaches got up, came over toward me and continued walking a complete circle around me while brushing against me.  I interpreted that as a "thank you."

You're welcome, Peaches.  It was my pleasure.


The cat-in-tree rescue business has slowed to a trickle in the new year.  The end of last year was my busiest ever, so the contrast with this year has been strong, and I have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the phone to ring.  But ring it did this Monday afternoon, and it came from a familiar place:  Cara's House, an animal shelter in a nearby parish.  It was Cara's House that asked me a few months ago to rescue Chomper, the cat that was stuck in the swamp near there, and they took care of him until he was transported to a shelter in New York where he was later adopted.

This time, the cat that needed a rescue was their own resident cat, Tori, and she was stuck in a tree on their own property after an unfriendly dog chased it there.  Tori was in a tree that was in a wild area between Cara's House and a very busy four-lane, divided highway.  The tree was just on the edge of a wide ditch which was full of water due to recent rain.  The land around the tree was covered with palmetto, vines and briers.  Tori came to rest on a branch a little over 20 feet high, and that was just about the only branch on that tree.  Fortunately, there was a larger tree very close to it that I could climb and reach her from there.

The nature of the site limited my access, so I set up my rope in a location that was not ideal.  I climbed up to Tori's height, but I was on the opposite side of the large tree from her.  I maneuvered over to her side and secured myself where I could lean over to reach her branch.  Fortunately, she was friendly and glad to see me and walked over to my outstretched hand.  I petted her and breathed a sigh of relief that she was not going to make this more difficult.

The people at Cara's House told me that Tori was friendly but feisty.  So far, I had not seen her feisty side, and I did not want to see it up there in the tree.  Even though I could easily scruff her into a bag from this position, I decided to first try to get her in a carrier to avoid any potential feisty reaction.  Tori, however, would not cooperate with the carrier, so I put it away and prepared the bag.

Again, I held my hand out to her and, again, she came to me for some petting.  I felt her scruff and slowly tightened my grip.  I held her firmly while I slowly lifted her up and pulled the bag over her.  She did not react at all.  She didn't fight or fuss the entire time in the bag, so I never did see her feisty side.

I brought her down and handed her over to the staff there.  They took her inside and fed her while I packed up my gear.  After I finished packing up, I went inside to check on Tori.  She had been in the tree only a total of five hours, so she was fine and was just starting to eat her supper.  Everyone was very happy and relieved to have her back down and safe.

I was in a rush to rescue Tori because Cara's House would be closing soon and darkness was approaching.  In my haste to get set up, I forgot to retrieve my camera, so I do not have any video of the rescue.  I was able to get pictures of Tori and the site only after the rescue was over, so there is no cat to see inside the red circle in the picture of the site.  The circle shows only where she was when I rescued her.