Cat stuck in a tree?

Randall Kolb

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.

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.


Rescues 201 - 300

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.



Reese is a six-month-old black kitten that lives with Vera at her home which is set next to a 
picturesque creek in a beautiful, remote area of wooded hills near Natchez, Mississippi. For reasons unknown, Reese climbed a large, tall tree at the edge of the creek and got stuck 50 feet high. Vera tried everything she knew to do, but all her efforts and calls to local resources failed to produce any results. With the assistance of her out-of-state family, she was able to find me after Reese had spent five long nights in the tree.

Reese may be only a six-month-old kitten, but she is one tough cookie. Not only did she manage to hang onto that tree for five nights and severe thunderstorms, she also managed to evade my every maneuver to rescue her by climbing higher and higher until she was holding onto the tiny wispy twigs at the tip of her vertical limb.

When I first arrived and began to climb up to Reese, she was about 50 feet high on a limb that angled upward slightly, but when I got too close for her comfort, she began to go farther out on her limb which gradually curved upward. Reese went out a few feet and stopped where she could stand on a limb. I climbed higher up the main stem where I could possibly reach her, but when I stretched and reached as far as I possibly could, I could just barely touch her feet and shoulder. In spite of my best efforts, I simply could not reach her well enough to grab her by the scruff of the neck. I tried to prove to her that I was friendly, but she was not convinced, and she decided she needed more distance from me. She went even farther out the limb which was now vertical, and she climbed upward until she reached the end. She was now about 70 feet high.

I climbed higher up the main stem until I was roughly level with Reese. She was too far away from me to reach with anything other than my rescue pole, so I pulled the pole up to me and prepared to snare her. It was impossible to get in a comfortable and secure position so close to the top of the tree, and I struggled miserably trying to finesse the noose around her and under her front legs without including any of the wispy tips of the tree. When I failed to get it correctly positioned, I had to rest every now and then and catch my breath and then try again. After several minutes of battle, it finally dawned on me that there is an easier way to do this, and I felt so foolish not to have thought of it first.

I put the rescue pole away and put a rope around Reese's limb and used it to pull the limb toward me. Reese was helpless as I pulled her closer and closer to me until she was within reach and I could grab her and put her in the bag. The poor little girl was exhausted from holding on to the limb and fighting the nasty noose I was trying to get around her after spending five nights in the tree. She was resigned to her fate now and settled limply in the bag. I placed her on my lap and petted her through the bag in an attempt to console her and let her know she was safe. I will never know if I convinced her or not, but she remained quiet and still for the entire long descent to the ground.

I transferred Reese to Vera's carrier so she could take her to her veterinarian to get checked out, and by the time I packed up my gear and was ready to leave, they were long gone. The next day, Vera told me that the veterinarian found Reese to be in good shape, and they are both now relieved that she is safe and comfortable at home.

I turned my camera off and on several times during this lengthy rescue but failed to turn it on for the last, critical part of the rescue, so I have no pictures from that portion of the ordeal.


The cat's name is Karen, and she is an eight-month-old Siamese kitty who got stuck 35 feet high in a skinny tree at her rural home near the town of Zachary. Kaylyn sent this picture of her to me and said that Karen had been stuck in the tree on a skinny limb with her legs dangling for four nights. I think it is remarkable that a cat can stay on such a small limb for so long without falling, but Karen was tough and determined.

Though Karen was supposed to be a reasonably friendly girl, I was not counting on that. I have recently had a long string of rescue cats who should have been friendly and cooperative but were not, and I have been questioning my cat charming and rescue abilities. When a cat looks at me like I am the cat-eating monster of their worst nightmares, it not only makes me wonder what I am doing wrong, it hurts my feelings. I was hoping that this would be the rescue where I could prove my ability to communicate my friendly intentions effectively and convince Karen that I was worthy of her trust.

It wasn't.

Karen did not trust me one bit. She stayed out of reach on her limb, and nothing I did or said made any difference in her impression of me. My feelings were hurt again. Since she was not responding to me, I decided to turn my back to her and ignore her, so I did just that. After a few minutes, I heard a sound behind me but closer than before, and I was happy to think that Karen might be having a change of heart and coming near me. I looked, and, indeed, she was coming to me. In fact, she was now right there next to me, and I was elated to think that this was the moment I had finally earned her trust.

It wasn't.

It took only a few seconds for me to see that she did not come close to me because she now trusted me. No, instead, she was trying to sneak past me while I had my back to her. If I had been prepared for this, I could have grabbed her and bagged her right then and there, but I still had her bribery food in one hand and the carrier in the other, and I could do nothing but watch as she slipped past me and began to climb awkwardly head-first down the trunk of the skinny tree. She lost her footing, flipped around and caught herself so that she was now holding on vertically with her head up, and if she had continued climbing down backward that way, she would have been fine. Instead, she wanted to go down head first, so she turned around and quickly ran down the stem head first until she lost control and fell the rest of the way to the ground. She ran just a short distance away from the tree, and a minute later, I saw that Shannon had picked her up and was carrying her back to the house.

Karen was fine. Kaylyn and Shannon were happy. But I was still hanging all alone at the top of that skinny tree, and my feelings were hurt.

Well, maybe the next rescue will be better.

It wasn't.