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.

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

2017
https://youtu.be/32Xqx0aoLlk

2016

Alora

A beautiful and friendly calico cat just showed up at Joe's house one day and introduced herself to him. Joe was a dog person and didn't have much experience with cats, but this one was just so relaxed, friendly and likable. For the first time, Joe was beginning to see why some people are so attached to their cats, because he was quickly getting attached to this one. He asked around, but no one knew the cat or to whom it might belong. She was a bit of a mystery.

The next day, the cat was still hanging around, and Joe was relieved and happy to see her. Not only was Joe getting attached to the cat, the cat appeared to be getting attached to Joe. He was even thinking about keeping her. On the third day, however, he did not see her and began to worry. He looked and called around for her and, after several minutes, heard her responding to him. It took a few minutes before he could locate her cry coming from up high, but he found her up in a neighbor's tree.

Joe was relieved to find her, but how does he get her down? He tried to coax her down, but as much as she wanted down, she didn't know how to do it. Joe went into action calling everyone he could, but he ran into all the same discouraging dead-ends that most people encounter when trying to find help for a cat stuck in a tree. When he called Animal Control, however, they gave him my number and, with it, a little bit of hope. I could hear how tired and discouraged he was on the phone when he called me, but his mood changed dramatically when I told him I would be glad to help. After so many other disappointing calls, he was surprised to hear that I not only took it seriously and cared, but also would actually rescue the cat.


I met Joe at his house, and he took me into the backyard next door to show me where the cat was. The very large oak tree was just across the backyard fence in the back neighbor's yard, and access from that side was much better. Joe had already talked to all the neighbor's involved and got their permission for me to be there, so we drove over to the next block and approached the tree from that side.

The cat was about 25 feet high in the massive union where the trunk split into several large branches that arched high and far in all directions. I had only one place to tie my rope that would allow me to get reasonably close to the center of the tree where the cat was. I set my rope there, and that process made the cat a little nervous. She moved just a short distance to a different spot in the tree, but was still within my reach. I knew she was normally a friendly cat to strangers, so I needed to take care that I did not frighten her too much. If she became frightened and wanted to get away from me in this tree, there is no way I would be able to follow her on such long branches.

I climbed up and swung over to one of the lower branches. To get to the center of the tree, I had to sit down on the branch and slide under another branch. Once I did that, I was almost within reach of the cat. Fortunately, she remained relaxed enough to greet me, and she sniffed my hand when I reached out to her. She let me pet her, and she pushed her head into my hand with the realization that I was friendly.

I visited with her there for a few minutes when she decided to jump over to the other side of the branch union to be a little closer to me. I prepared my cat bag on my arm and spent another minute petting her. Once she was in a good position, I grabbed her by the scruff, picked her up and pulled the bag over her. She felt betrayed and fussed at me, but I had her safely in the bag, and she would feel better shortly.

I went back down and handed her to Joe who was now very relieved to have her down. The bond he felt for her was now complete, and he already had a name for her: Alora. He held her in the bag and talked to her to calm her down. She relaxed very quickly once she realized that he was there. He let her poke her head out of the bag, and she was even more satisfied now that all would be fine.

When I saw Alora's head poking out of the bag, however, I was surprised and concerned that she would bolt and possibly head back up a tree again. While my concern was generally justified for many cats, it was misplaced with her. She remained calm and did not appear to be a risk at all. I held her in the bag while Joe stepped over the back yard fence to take her home. I handed the bag to Joe over the fence, and he set her gently on the ground and pulled her out of the bag. "She is a sweet-heart," he said. "I'm going to keep her."

Before I left, I scanned Alora for a microchip but did not find one. There were no reports of a lost cat matching her description on the local Lost Pets page, so it appears that she has found a new home with Joe. And it looks like Joe has found a new love.



Pumpkin

When Kayla called me to see if I could rescue her sweet, one-year old cat, Pumpkin, from the pine tree in her back yard, it sounded like a routine rescue. I know better than to predict how long a rescue will take, but I thought this one would be fairly quick. But when I arrived at the site and saw the tree and learned more about Pumpkin's disposition, I knew I was in for a long one.

The tree was a tall pine tree surrounded by a dense, impenetrable thicket of privet, vines, thorns, bushes and small trees. To install my rope in the tree, I needed to be able to get fairly close to the trunk, but that did not appear to be possible here. To make matters worse, the more I learned about Pumpkin from Kayla, the more clear it became that Pumpkin was not going to be the least bit cooperative. Yep, I was in a for long one.

I will spare you all the details about the difficulties, poor decisions, bad luck and creativity I employed to install my rope in the tree while the rain began to fall, but I eventually succeeded. I'm just not going to say how long it took me to do it. In the end, however, I had my rope installed up very high in the tree because I was expecting Pumpkin to climb higher as I approached. I was prepared to chase her all the way to the top.

Many cats get frightened by the rope installation process, because it creates a little commotion in the tree around them. Pumpkin, however, was the most skittish I had ever seen. I was very pleased with how little commotion I created when I first shot my line into the tree well above her, but even that little bit scared her into climbing a little higher. Fortunately and surprisingly, she did not climb any higher throughout the rest of the lengthy rope installation. When I first arrived, she was out near the end of a low limb about 15 feet high. Now that I was ready to climb, she was only 20 feet high and, again, out near the end of the limb.

I was feeling a little encouraged by her position, because she was at the end of a relatively short limb and there was a good chance I could climb up to her without her climbing any higher in the tree. Indeed, she stayed in place, and when I climbed up to her, I was blocking her escape path up the tree. That was just what I wanted, so now I could see if there was any possibility of making friends with her. I walked out the limb about 10 feet toward her, and she was still another 10 feet away from me.


I could tell by the expression on her face that she did not like my being there one bit. She was trapped and felt it. I poured on my charm and gave her time to warm up to me, but I could not make any progress with her. I knew that she normally comes running when she hears a can of food being opened, so I pulled out a can and opened it hoping for a miracle. But no miracle occurred. She had no response to that at all. My last hope was to hold the food on the end of a long pole and position it closer to her, but that failed miserably. Even before I could get it anywhere near her, she reacted by going even farther out the limb. That clearly scared her, so my only choice now was to try to remotely pluck her from the end of the limb.

I hauled up my rescue pole and net and got them ready. I always practice the maneuver a bit before trying it to make sure I am ready, so after that, I began to extend the noose of the rescue pole toward her. Just like with the food coming toward her, she was terrified at the mere sight of it, and before I could get it within six feet of her, she jumped down to the next lower branch. Generally, cats are not afraid of the rescue pole near them, but they are terrified of the net approaching them. Pumpkin, however, was so afraid of the rescue pole that I could not imagine how much worse she would react to the sight of the net.

She had jumped down to a branch that was much longer, and she walked all the way out to the end of it. I went down to her branch and walked out toward her, but she was still well out of my reach now. However, she was now less than 20 feet from the ground, and she was positioned just beyond the edge of the dense thicket that surrounded the tree trunk. The simplest solution now was just to shake Pumpkin out of the tree while Kayla and another person held a blanket between them to catch her when she fell.

Kayla got a blanket and a friend to help her, and they got into position below. I gave them some instructions about how to do it and what to expect. When they were ready, I jumped up and down on the limb until Pumpkin fell. But Pumpkin used her super-cat powers to leap from the shaking limb out into the air off to the side far away from the waiting blanket. I did not think it possible to fly out as far as she did, but down she fell and landed on the ground on her feet. Without missing a step, she ran off behind the shed.

Pumpkin appeared to be just fine, but she was hiding, and it would be a while before she would feel like emerging. I'm sure she was especially eager to see me leave first. So I came down, packed up and left as quickly as I could. I told Kayla to let me know when Pumpkin came out of hiding.

About two hours later, Kayla told me that Pumpkin was home, safe and sound. She sent me these pictures of her later, and I was very pleased and happy to see that all was well in the Pumpkin household again.