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

Bojangles

I have had two rescues in the past three days, both of which were disappointing. They were both successful in the sense that they ended with the cat on the ground and doing well, but how they got there is another matter.

First, was an unknown cat that was 50 feet high in a Pine tree in Denham Springs.  She appeared to be a young torbie, but I never got a good look at her to verify that. She was afraid of me and went out near the end of her limb. All my coaxing, food bribes, charm and patience had no effect on her, and she went out to the extreme end of the limb where the tiny twigs could not hold her. She fell 50 feet to the ground and ran off out of sight. She appeared to be fine, but it is a very unsatisfying feeling for me that I could not bring her down safely.

The second rescue was for Bojangles, a large black-and-white, four-year-old boy who got stuck in a leaning Tallow tree in his own backyard. He had been there only eight hours or so when I arrived, but he was stressed and suffering in the heat of a very hot August day. He cried and cried while panting heavily and drooling.

I was concerned about how he would react to me, because Joanna told me that he was so wild when she took him to the vet that he had to be sedated. I immediately eliminated the option of using of a carrier to bring him down, since I was sure he would associate the carrier with that scary experience. Furthermore, he sounded so stressed that I was not sure he was even going to let me get near him. If not, then that would rule out using a cat bag, though I had reservations about that too. From what I heard from Joanna, this was a boy who did not take kindly to anything that confined him. The good news, however, was that under normal circumstances at home, he was not afraid of strangers. I clung on to that hope.

As I installed my rope in the tree, Bo walked out near the end of the limb. From the sound of distress in his voice, I was not feeling optimistic that he would be happy to see me. He was only 20 feet high, but directly below him was a wooden swing hanging from a frame that would hurt him if he fell. We got a long outdoor furniture cushion and laid it across the top of the frame to offer some protection from that potential hazard.

By the time I began to climb up to him, Bo still had not settled down at all. As I got closer to him, I could see him clearly panting and drooling in the heat out near the end of the limb. He was in bad shape and needed down now. I climbed up to him slowly and called out for him to be sure he knew I was there. He ignored me until I reached roughly level with him. To my utter surprise, without hesitation, he walked along the limb toward me and came straight to me. I touched him as he passed by and petted him when he stopped in front of me. This was great news, and I was very happy to make friends with him so quickly.

Bo settled down on the limb close to me and continued to pant and drool, but he was not crying anymore. His quick show of cooperation left me wondering if he would go into a carrier after all, and I was now sorry that I did not even bring it up in the tree with me. At the same time, I was seeing the possibility of a new rescue option that I did not consider before. He was perched on the limb level with my lap, and I wondered if he would be willing to go down to the ground in my lap. He was already so close, so I tried to nudge him onto my lap. When that failed, I tried picking up his rear end and placing it on my lap, but before I could work on moving his front end too, he seemed uncomfortable with the idea and pulled himself back on the limb. I was reluctant to be more forceful and risk losing his friendship, so I fell back on the idea of just using the cat bag.

I did not want to grab him by the scruff and bag him, because Bo is a big boy, and if he went wild like he did at the vet, I might lose control of him. I did not have any other options, however, so I prepared the bag while feeling a bit of dread. I made sure I had enough room and mentally practiced the maneuver. Then I petted Bo some more while massaging his neck. I gently grabbed his scruff and began to lift him, and I was pleased to see that he was handling it well so far. He did not complain until I began to pull the bag over his face. That was a serious violation, and he let me know it with a wild scream. I rushed to finish pulling the bag over him, but the bag was not looking right. It was all twisted, and I could not find the end of the bag. I pulled on all sides and still could not get the bag completely over him. As he began to struggle, I began to lose my grip on his scruff even while I could still see his bottom half sticking out of the bag. When I lost my grip on him, I tried to turn the bag up so he could fall into it, but he wiggled out and fell to the ground. I was no more than 20 feet high, and by the time he fell, he was below me a few feet, so his fall was not far. I saw him stretch his legs out, and he landed just fine on all four legs. He ran off and hid in the garage.

Bo appeared to be just fine, but I was feeling horrible that I lost control of him. I hate to see a cat fall out of a tree, and now I have seen it twice in three days. I came back down to the ground and packed up while Bo continued to hide in the garage. I knew he would not likely come out until I left, so I packed as quickly as I could. I wanted him to go inside as soon as possible so he could cool off. I drove home feeling down and criticizing myself for my failure to secure these two different cats, but at least they are both down and well, and that is what matters.



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.