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.

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




When Josh called me, I could tell by his voice that he cared very much for his cat, Nyla.  Nyla is his nine-month old, black and white girl that had been stuck in a tree for two nights, and he was very concerned about her.  She is an indoor-only cat, but she got out two days ago and ran up the tall tree next to their house.

He adopted Nyla from one of his customers who suddenly found herself with more kittens than she could handle, and Josh happened to be there when the kittens were ready for adoption.  Nyla crawled into his lap and went to sleep, and that was all it took.  He instantly bonded with her and took her home.

Josh had to be at work, but his wife, Stephanie, would be there to greet me and show me where Nyla was.  When I arrived, I met Stephanie, and she pointed to Nyla about 45 feet high in the tree.  Nyla was walking around and crying with all this new activity below, and sometimes she was on some skinny limbs and slipping.  At one point, she was hanging by only her front paws, but she managed to pull herself back up.  Josh had told me that she is a very friendly cat, so I was hoping for an easy rescue.

I set up my rope and climbed up to her, but she was out on a branch about eight feet away from me and didn't look like she wanted to come any closer.  She was not afraid or alarmed, she just didn't see any reason to get close to this stranger.  She sat there catching up on some routine grooming while I tried to get her attention and make friendly overtures.  Since my natural charm was having no effect on her, I pulled out a can of food and opened it.  That changed everything.  Her ears perked up at the sound of the can opening, and she immediately began walking toward me.

When I was initially setting up for the climb, I pulled out the carrier and set it on the ground to bring with me, but absentmindedly forgot to attach it to my harness.  It was not until I was up in the tree and ready to use it, that I realized I had forgotten it.  Nyla was a good candidate for a carrier rescue, and I had wanted to bring her down that way if she was cooperative.  But with no carrier to use, I pulled out my gloved cat bag instead.

Nyla reacted so quickly to the food, that I was not prepared with the cat bag on my arm.  She felt like I was just teasing her with the food and complained about that while I used both hands to put on my cat bag.  Once I was ready, I gave her the food.  She ate heartily and let me pet her freely while she did so.  I let her have a few bites and then put the food away so I could free that hand to bag her.  I pulled up her scruff, lifted her off the branch and pulled the bag over her.  She didn't complain about that process, but as soon as she was closed in the bag, she got mad and started spitting and hissing.  She was not happy about being betrayed and treated in such an undignified manner, and she told me so.

I brought her down and handed her, still hissing, to Stephanie who took her inside to release her.  The first thing Nyla did was go to the litter box.  After getting great relief there, she began to eat.

She has recovered and is settling back into her routine.  That evening, Nyla settled into Josh's arms and went to sleep like she did in his lap the first day they met.  Yep, things are back to normal now, the family is restored, and calm has settled into the household again.


Ptolemy, a 2-year old, black and white cat, was patrolling his front yard as usual when he was suddenly surprised by a large dog running down the street toward him.  This did not look good, and the only option he had now was to climb the nearest tree.  Fortunately, he escaped the dog, but now found himself stuck up in the tree.  He was distressed, because he did not know how to go back down.

Daniel, Ptolemy's owner, chased the dog away and saw Ptolemy crying up in the tree.  Daniel tried to coax him down, but Ptolemy just didn't know how to do it.  Daniel propped a ladder up against the tree, but that activity and noise just made Ptolemy nervously climb up a little higher.  The ladder was not quite long enough to reach him anyway.

Even though Ptolemy had been in the tree less than an hour, Daniel wanted him down as soon as possible and called me.  I was pleased to learn that he was located only several blocks from me, so it would be nice to have a very short drive this time.

Ptolemy was in a tall pine tree in the next-door neighbor's front yard close to the street.  He was perched about 25 feet high on one of the lowest branches and crying in distress.  He clearly was not a happy camper and wanted down out of this tree.

I installed my rope easily and that activity did not seem to disturb him.  I began to climb up to him slowly and watch his reaction to my approach.  He continued to complain, but did not seem alarmed by my presence.  Once I reached level with him, he got more nervous and his voice changed to a more urgent tone.  Worried that he might try to climb up higher to get away from me in this very tall tree, I quickly moved up a little higher to discourage him from going in that direction.  I continued to try to calm him down and make friends with him.

He sniffed my hand and let me touch him.  He was not afraid of me anymore, but he wasn't happy to see me either.  He just tolerated me while he continued to voice his complaints about his plight.

Since I could touch him freely and Daniel had already told me that Ptolemy's few experiences with a carrier were unpleasant to him, I prepared the cat bag on my arm.  I calmly talked to him some more while petting him, slowly grabbed his scruff and lifted him off his branch.  I pulled the bag over him and secured him inside.

I brought him down and handed him to Daniel who took him inside the house and released him there.  Daniel and Ptolemy are both doing just fine now.