Cat stuck in a tree?

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.

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.

Cost
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.

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?
Randall descending cedar treeFirst, 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.

Consider watching one of these slideshows of my favorite images from my rescues, and I think you will understand just how meaningful and important this is both to the people and their cats.

Images

Rescues 101 - 200

Rescues 1 - 100


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

2018
https://youtu.be/DFUabWnwg2o

2017

2016

Kiki


The weather forecast was not good. Tropical storm Barry was in the Gulf and expected to strengthen and come ashore sometime during the night. In advance of the storm, heavy rain showers had been forecast for my area in the late afternoon, but they did not appear to be materializing as predicted. Still, they could begin to form at any time, and the winds were picking up a bit. This would be a terrible time for a cat to get stuck in a tree, and I was glad that I did not have a cat rescue to do.

Then the phone rang.

The caller, Lauren, had just found my number when someone on Facebook recommended me to her in response to her post about her cat being stuck in a tree. Lauren had already suffered through the jokes, indifference, bad advice and platitudes that always rear their ugly heads in this situation, so she was relieved when I not only took the matter seriously but also said I would get her cat down. We just needed for the weather to hold off a little while.

I feared that the showers could start forming at any moment, so I rushed out there as quickly as I could. Though I drove through one shower along the way, the weather appeared just fine when I arrived. Lauren was already outside waiting for me and led me to the site. She had already sent a picture of the tree to me beforehand, and I recognized the tree as soon as I drove up. Lauren's cat, Kiki, was perched on the lowest limb of the tree which was a little over 30 feet high. Above Kiki were a few other live limbs, but, otherwise, the top of the tree was dead. The best limb I could find in this tree to use to install my rope was alive but the top half of it was dead.

Lauren described Kiki as a feral cat that appeared at her home about six years ago when he was still a juvenile. She tamed him very well and turned him into a sweet boy that is friendly even with strangers. I was certainly hoping that he would be friendly with me, because I would not be able to follow him higher into the dead top of this tree.

As I installed my rope in the tree, I was very relieved and happy to see that Kiki was not bothered by it at all. He even appeared to be playing with the lines as they passed very close to him. He continued to appear relaxed during the entire process. With optimism for a cooperative kitty, I climbed up to him carefully to make sure I did not give him any reason to be alarmed. He watched me approach and appeared to remain calm. Once I was close enough, I reached out my hand to him. He sniffed it and then let me stroke his cheek with one finger. He was satisfied with my good intentions, and I climbed up a little higher to get level with him. I petted him, and he pushed his head into my hand. Now that I was close, I could see just how big this brown tabby boy is. I was especially impressed with the size of his paws.

I had asked beforehand about Kiki's attitude toward carriers and knew that he had no real aversion to them, so I opened my carrier and held it up to him. He peered inside but, otherwise, did not seem interested. I opened a can of food and held that in front of him. He sniffed it, but as an exclusively dry-food eater, he was not very interested. Undeterred, I put the food in the back of the carrier and held the carrier up to him again. Again, he looked inside but still saw no compelling reason to go in there. He rubbed his head on the carrier opening but, otherwise, did not pay much attention to it. I knew I still had a chance with him if I just give him a little more time, so I continued to hold the carrier up to him and talk to him and pet him. After a minute, he looked inside with a little more interest and slowly began to step inside. He is a long boy, so he reached all the way to the back of the carrier while his back feet were still on the tree. I gave him a few more seconds, and then he pulled his back feet inside. I closed the door and brought him down.

Lauren took Kiki inside the house to release him while I packed my gear. It was only a few minutes later when Lauren sent this picture to me showing Kiki finally showing some interest in the food I offered him. He just needed to be down, safe and at home before he could think about food. He had been in the tree only one night and is doing just fine now. I am very relieved that he did not have to be in that tree during the storm. That would have been a very wild and scary ride for him, but, fortunately, he avoided that misery just in time.



Penelope

It is always a challenge for the children of a blended family to learn to get along. Such was the case when Mandy introduced her dogs to Tony's cat, Penelope. The dogs liked Penelope very much -- a little too much -- but the feelings were not mutual. The backyard, which formerly was Penelope's undisputed domain, was now suddenly going to the dogs, and Penelope was increasingly finding it necessary to hide under the shed. This time, however, they caught her by surprise, and she had to climb up the tree to escape their enthusiasm.

Tony was there when his mama cat gave birth to Penelope and two other kittens. Tony found good homes for the other two kittens and kept Penelope and the mama for himself. Penelope has been with Tony for five years now, and their bond has grown very deep, so when Penelope became stuck in the tree, Tony did everything he could to get her down. Despite his determination and efforts, however, nothing was working. The thirty feet of vertical distance between them was just as formidable as the width of the ocean, and with each failed attempt, Penelope's time in the severe heat of the July days was taking a toll.

It was after Penelope's third night in the tree that Mandy found me by searching the internet for help. It was mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, when she called, and I did not want Penelope to suffer any longer, so I rushed over there as quickly as I could. When I arrived, Mandy led me to the back part of the backyard, and there I saw Penelope resting on a limb almost 30 feet high in an oak tree. She did not respond to us and looked almost lifeless there. So much so, in fact, that Mandy was worried that she had died. I tried to reassure her that Penelope was just exhausted, but I could see that Mandy was not convinced. It wasn't until I shot my weighted bag into the tree above Penelope and stirred her up that Mandy felt relieved. The activity of installing my rope in the tree frightened and energized Penelope a bit, but by the time I was ready to climb the tree, she had settled down.

Mandy and Tony had told me that Penelope was a super friendly cat, and I always love to hear that. I was hoping for a cooperative cat and easy rescue, and it seemed like I had the ingredients for one this time. As I climbed up to her on the opposite side of the trunk, I felt optimistic, and when I reached level with her and saw her reaction to me, I knew she would indeed live up to her friendly reputation. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff it a few seconds, and then gently stroked her cheeks. She was relieved to see that I was friendly and turned and pressed her head into my hand for a full rub. She came closer to me and stepped on the limb immediately in front of me where we continued our greetings and firmed up our new friendship. Yes, Penelope is a sweet, friendly kitty, and I was struck by her blue eyes and unusual markings. From a distance she appeared to be a brown tabby but there was a small touch of orange here and there. There weren't enough tortie touches to call her a torby, but she seemed like something more than a brown tabby too.


It was clear very early that Penelope would be comfortable getting in my lap, and, indeed, she voluntarily stepped down onto my lap fairly quickly. I had not planned to bring her down on my lap, but this seemed to be an appropriate time for it. Penelope was relaxed and comfortable, the descent was reasonably unobstructed, and she was in her own territory, so I saw no reason not to do it. So I pulled her closer to my body and held her there while I began to descend. We went down only a foot when she decided to step onto the lower limb that was now level with us. She explored that limb a minute and then came back to my lap. Again we began to descend, and she remained relaxed as we eased our way down. Once we got close to the ground, she began to squirm out of my grip, and I knew she was thinking about jumping down to the ground. Tony came close to get her, but she jumped down just out of his reach and walked straight to the nearby shed and crawled under it.


It was not until now that I learned that she had been hiding under the shed previously to get away from the dogs, and Tony and Mandy had had difficulty getting her out from under there. Now, I regretted bringing her down in my lap. If I had brought her down in a carrier or a bag, they could have taken her inside with no difficulty. Now, however, she is out of the tree but still out of reach.

I opened a can of food, dumped it into a container and put it on the end of my extendable pole. I gave it to Tony and told him how to use it to lure Penelope out. He reached the food under the shed close to Penelope, and she sniffed it. He slowly pulled the food back, and Penelope followed. It took less than a minute before Penelope was within reach, and Tony picked her up and took her inside. Mandy followed with the food. Once inside, Penelope finished the food and was clearly glad to be home.

As I packed up, Tony came back outside with a bottle of water for me and lots of gratitude for what I had done. I often get hugs from women after rescuing their cat, but I think this is the first time I had a guy hug me. That kind of gratitude is what makes this so rewarding for me, so I was very happy to get it, and I love knowing that Penelope means so much to him.