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

Mitt

Whenever I get a call to rescue an unknown cat, I never know quite what to expect. This time, however, I had a good idea that it would be a friendly cat. When Jesse called me for the rescue, he told what he had already done to rescue the cat himself, and the the cat's cooperative reaction to his attempts was a very positive sign.

Jesse and his wife, Nina, had discovered the cat in a large pine tree at the edge of the woods on the property the day before. They did not recognize the cat, but were just as determined to help it as if it were their own. The cat was on the lowest limb of the tree but was still a little over 40 feet high. The limb was partially broken and angled downward several feet. Jesse made a valiant and almost successful effort to climb a ladder as high as he could and use a pool net to reach the cat which came down the drooping limb to get closer to him. The cat actually stepped inside the net with his front paws, but Jesse was unable to get the back legs in too.

I had some trouble getting my rope installed in the tree, but, because it was being set on a limb far above the cat, he did not get seriously frightened. By the time I climbed up to him, he appeared relaxed and welcoming, and I was relieved to see that he would be friendly and cooperative. We made friends right away, and he was happy to have some company and get some loving.

Because of his features, I assumed he was a female at first, and you will hear me refer to him as such in the video. It was later, when we were down on the ground, that I learned that he is a male. From a distance, he appeared to be all black, but now that I was close, I could see a few, small patches of white on his underside. I also saw several blotches of pine sap on his fur, especially on his back. It took me a few minutes, however, to notice his most interesting feature. His front feet were very large, and it appeared that he had two thumbs on both feet. He was a polydactyl cat, and this is the first time I have ever seen one. Since his feet looked like catcher's mitts, I decided to call him Mitt.


After we exchanged our greetings and checked each other out, it was time to go down, and I saw no reason why I could not bring him down in the carrier. I held the carrier up to him, and he looked inside and even stepped inside with his front paws, but he would not go in all the way. I opened a can of food for him to give him a better reason to go in. He was very interested in the food and stepped onto my lap to get a closer look as I opened it. I let him have a few bites, and then I put the food in the back of the carrier. I felt confident that he would go inside now, but, again, he continued to insist on putting no more than two feet inside. I tried to get him to go all the way in the carrier several times, but he never would do so. Since he seemed relaxed and trusting enough, I decided to help push his back end inside. After petting and scratching his rump, I gently lifted his back legs and guided them inside the carrier. He did not complain one bit, and, after tucking his tail inside, I closed and latched the door.

I brought him down and turned him over to Jesse and Nina. They had already been checking all the relevant websites to see if the cat had been reported as missing, but no reports had been found. I scanned the cat for a microchip but did not find one. They will continue to try to find the cat's owner, but as of the next day, the kitty's home still had not been found. If the owner is not found, they will likely try to find a new home for him, since they are unable to keep him permanently. He is a very sweet and affectionate polydactyl cat, so I am sure that it won't be difficult to find someone who will want to adopt this special boy.

Nina sent this picture of him to me afterward, and I am glad she did, because I did not get a picture that showed his feet very well.



Squirrel

Of all the animals in this world, I believe it is the cat that has the greatest talent for getting itself into problematic and dangerous situations. They manage to get themselves trapped in a bewildering number of ways: locked up in closets and cabinets, in the attic, inside furniture, inside walls, on roofs, in holes of all kinds, and, of course, high in trees. I even found one inside a refrigerated soft drink vending machine. They also manage to get themselves outside their own territory into uncomfortable, if not dangerous, new places. Sometimes, they simply walk there, while, other times, they hitch a ride in cars, trailers or boats and show up in the most unexpected places. When we are surprised to find these mysterious cats where they do not normally belong, we always ask in wonder and amazement, "How did you get here?" The cat never answers.

This theme repeated itself a few days ago in Livingston when Wendy discovered a small, lone Siamese kitten in the wooded area by her house. She tried to approach it, but it ran away. She continued to try to make friends with the kitten over the next two days by offering it food and approaching it slowly, but the kitten always ran away and kept a good distance between them. Wendy was puzzled by the appearance of this kitten and asked the neighbors if it belonged to them. She looked around for a mother cat or other kittens but found none. She checked the websites for notices about a lost kitten and, again, found no answer. She continued to try to befriend the kitten, but it always did its best to avoid her. On the second day, it eventually escalated its escape tactic to climbing a small tree.

Wendy backed off and went inside to give the kitten time to come down the tree on its own, but the kitten remained there and even went higher. It also began to cry and appear distressed. After a few hours of waiting, Wendy called me to see if I could help.

When I arrived, I met Wendy, her husband, Matt, and their daughter Addison, and they led me just inside the wooded area to the tree which was holding the kitten hostage. The tree was small and skinny with very few limbs, none of which I could use to install a rope. The trunk rose about 20 feet, and it ended at that point, shown here at the top of the frame, with several small limbs shooting mostly straight up another 10 feet. The kitten could not go any higher as it was already in the thin, wispy tips of the largest of those limbs and far above the frame of this picture. There was no way I could get closer to the kitten than the top of the trunk, and there was no way the kitten could come down that vertical limb to me. I would not expect it to come to me anyway after hearing how persistently it had already avoided Wendy on the ground. If I could get close enough, I might be able to use my net or rescue pole. Otherwise, I would have to cut the limb, lower the kitten down to me and put it in the cat bag.

There was a ladder already leaning against the tree which I decided I would use to get started. I climbed the ladder to its top, tied myself into the tree and advanced to the top of the trunk from there. At my request, Matt removed the ladder for me so it would be out of the way. The kitten was distressed, panting and crying almost directly above me and still about 10 feet above me. I needed to get as close as I could, so I inched my way a little higher until I was as high as I could safely go in that tree.

The kitten was distressed, not only because of me, but also because it was in an uncomfortable and precarious position and occasionally would lose its footing. I decided to take advantage of its fragile footing and try to shake the limb until the kitten fell into my net. I pulled up my net and began to lift it into position directly below the kitten, but before I could even get the net close to it, it jumped out of the tree and landed on the ground. It sat there stunned a few seconds and then began to run back into the woods. It didn't know where to go though, so it circled back toward me and eventually pushed itself as best it could next to my box of gear in an exhausted attempt to make itself as small as possible and hide. It was a pitiful sight as it looked exhausted and resigned to defeat. Wendy and Matt slowly went over to it to cover it and then used one of my nets to contain it. It was too tired or scared to fight, and they easily got it into the net. They took it over to a cage they already had waiting and released it in there. Now it was beginning to panic, so I told them to cover the cage to help it calm down.


I came down out of the tree and packed up my gear. The kitten was still frightened and had no interest in the food and water in the cage. I wanted simply to keep it covered until it had a chance to calm down and feel safe, but I could not resist getting this one picture of it, since I thought that would be the only close picture I would have.

Wendy planned to take the kitten to the vet and either find the owner or find a new home for it. Even though the kitten was small, it just seemed so feral to me that I wondered if it would be possible to tame it. Fortunately, Wendy proved me wrong by sending these pictures to me that same evening. I was shocked to see that the kitten looked like it had already settled in comfortably with the whole family. The kitten calmed down and ate, and Wendy pulled it out of its cage purrito-style and held it until it relaxed and felt safe. It felt comfortable being held by Matt, and it settled happily on top of Hannah, Wendy's step-daughter.

Wendy took the kitten to the vet the next morning and reported that it is a healthy 7-week-old female. If the owner is not found, they have decided to keep it and, in recognition of its tree-climbing ability, have already named it Squirrel.