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.

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.

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



Cookie 2

It was just two and a half weeks ago that I rescued a cat named Cookie, and now I have a completely different cat with the same name to rescue. This Cookie is all black except for a thin strip of white on his chest, and he is stuck in the top of a vine-covered Tallow tree on the fence line of his backyard. We don't know why he climbed up there. He has never done anything like this before, but there he is now, about 40 feet high on the highest branch of the tree. Sheila found him there late in the evening, and the next day, she called the Animal Control office which referred her to me.

You can't see Cookie in this picture, because he is covered by the vines and foliage behind the branch that enters the circle, but that is where he is. Since Cookie was already at the top of the tree, I could not set my rope above him. At first, I picked the next significant branch below him and planned to install my rope there, but just before I began to aim my big sling shot to launch my weighted bag over that limb, Cookie decided to move out just above that limb. It would have been risky to shoot the bag with him so close to my target, and I didn't want to risk hitting him. So I took advantage of this opportunity to set my rope at the top of the tree where Cookie had just been. I shot my line in exactly the right spot without fear of hitting him and installed my rope there.

The tree was full of vines, some of it poison ivy. It made for an unpleasant climb up to Cookie as I had to push through the tangles of vines that would frequently get caught on my gear. But I was pleased to see that Cookie was happy to see me when I reached him. I had to break some vines out of the way between us so I could reach out to him, but he is a friendly boy and let me touch him and pet him right away. Now that I was close, I could see that he was standing, not on a tree limb, but on tangled vines.

I always like to bring a cat down in the carrier when possible, but I have been having a high failure rate with that method lately. Still, I wanted to try it again, so I opened the carrier and placed in front of him as best as I could. I thought he would be a great candidate for a carrier rescue, but he, too, balked at walking inside. I made a note to myself to be sure I clean the carrier thoroughly when I get home in case there is some scent on it that is repelling the cats.

The only option now was to bag him, so I prepared the cat bag. I broke some more vines out of the way to be sure they did not get in the way, and then I petted him some more. I massaged his scruff then slowly grabbed him and pulled him out of the vines. I pulled the bag over him, and he was not happy about this at all. In his mind, he had trusted me, and I had betrayed him. He fussed about it but did not struggle, and I secured him in the bag.

I brought him down where he was happily welcomed by Sheila and her daughter. Before I had a chance to tell them to take him inside, they took him out of the bag right away. Cookie was relaxed and content in their arms as they took turns holding him and reuniting with him. Sheila thanked me and hugged me forcefully and planted a big kiss on my cheek. They were both very happy to have their kitty down, and that is what I most like to see after a rescue. The kitty is down and safe, and the family is happy. I can go home now.


When Kathy and her family went to their camp recently, a small orange tabby kitten approached them. The kitten was cute and friendly, so they spent some time with it while assuming and hoping it belonged to someone nearby. They went back home but returned to the camp the next week, and the kitten was still there. This time, they decided they needed to take it home with them. Kathy convinced her son to take it and, perhaps, give it to his girl friend. The son named it Tahli and presented it to his girl friend, but she was not as thrilled about the kitten as everyone had hoped. Apparently, neither was the son, because, now, Tahli is living with Kathy.

Tahli is only three months old, but he has already found himself stuck in a tree in the back yard. We don't know how it happened, but Kathy found him about 9:00 at night, and, after doing some research on the internet, she found me and called the next morning. We arranged to meet there later in the afternoon.

Tahli was 25 feet high in a small sweet gum tree, and he was sitting on top of the trunk where the top had broken off long ago. Since he was known to be friendly to strangers at their camp in the past, I was expecting him to be friendly to me in the tree. And he probably would have been had I not scared him so badly when installing my rope in the tree. The weighted bag that I used to install my rope got stuck in a long limb, and I had to pull it very hard to free it. As I pulled on the bag, it also pulled the long limb toward Tahli, and I created quite a bit of commotion as I jerked on the bag several times until it suddenly came free. When that happened, Tahli walked out a small limb on the opposite side of the tree to get away from that, and he was clearly scared.

I had hoped that he would have calmed down a good bit by the time I climbed up to him, but, if he did, it was not enough. He was perched near the end of the limb about eight feet away and facing me while panting due to stress, heat and dehydration. He spoke to me, but he would not come any closer to me. I was as sweet and gentle as I could be to him, but he would not forgive me for scaring him earlier. I opened a can of food hoping that would change his mind, but he had no response to that at all. I then learned from Kathy that he has never had canned food before. So I called Kathy on my cell phone and had her talk to Tahli through the speaker phone as if she were in the tree in my place. Tahli did recognize and respond to her voice, but he still would not come any closer.

If I could have installed my rope a good bit higher, I could have walked out that limb to get much closer to Tahli and make friends with him, but I did not trust the limbs above me, because they appeared to have sprouted from the top of the tree after the top broke off and were, therefore, more weakly attached. So, I chose to place my long-handled net behind him to nudge or scare him into walking to me. Once he gets close enough to me, then I will make friends with him and put him in the cat bag.

I had to reach as far as I could to get the net in position behind him, and, as expected, he was not comfortable with that net there. He shifted his position a little, but he did not move. I pulled the net closer to him and even nudged his rear end, but he still would not move. Since he was not moving, I decided to slip the net under him and capture him in the net. As I slipped the net under his back feet, he stood up and began to lose his footing. He fell to one side of the limb but was hanging on. I quickly moved the hoop of the net to the other side and under him, but the bottom of the net got hung up in the foliage on the other side of the limb. Instead of hanging freely below the hoop, the net was now stretched straight to one side partially blocking his entry through the hoop. Still, if I could get him to fall into the net, then his weight should pull the net down where it should be.

Tahli managed to pull himself back up on the branch, and I had to put the net over him to prevent him from going all the way to the end of the branch out of my reach. I pulled him back toward me and tried to flip him off the limb into the net. He still managed to hang on to the limb, and I could not get him to fall into the net. As I struggled to maneuver the net in such a way to pull him loose, he lost his grip and, with the aid of the net still snagged and stretched taut under the hoop, managed to slide on his back over the edge of the hoop and out of the net. I tried to quickly move the net below him to catch him, but he fell faster than I could move it. He fell into the limbs of a different, smaller tree and came to rest on a limb there just ten feet below me but still ten feet from the ground. He stood there stunned and motionless.

At this point, Brian, a neighbor who had come to watch, became my hero and climbed up the step ladder that was already out there from Kathy's earlier attempts to get Tahli down. He went up as high as he could and reached as far as he could and managed to grab Tahli and bring him down. Tahli was too tired and stunned to put up any resistance, and he came down calmly. Kathy let out a huge sigh of relief as she took Tahli in her arms and then carried him inside the house.

I was so grateful that Brian was there and was willing and able to quickly step in and grab Tahli while he was still in such a docile state. Not only was that best for Tahli, it was also best for me. Otherwise, I would have had to go to a lot of trouble to move my rope to a better position to allow me to descend to Tahli's new position, and Tahli would have been more stressed by the time I got there. Thanks, Brian. You saved us a lot of trouble and brought our difficulties to a quicker end.