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.

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 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




Simba's Eighth Rescue

He was due. Simba, my record-holder for most rescues, has not been stuck in a tree for more than eight months, so I figured it was about time to hear from him again. Today, I did. Simba did it again and got stuck in a tree in his front yard, and this is the eighth time I have rescued him. If you think that I find his habitual behavior annoying, you would be terribly mistaken. Simba is among my most favorite cats to rescue, and when he does not get stuck in a tree for a while, I miss him terribly. I am actually happy to learn that he is stuck again and that I have another opportunity to go visit with him. He is always cooperative, and the rescue is usually quite easy. Not only is he relaxed and friendly, he is also beautiful.

Finding him in the tree was easy this time. He was only 20 feet high in the tree and crying out to us below. I picked out a large limb about 10 feet above him and installed my rope there. He calmly watched me as I climbed up to him and greeted me with his butt end as he stepped out on another limb to turn around. Instead of turning around, he turned back to me and looked at my lap. He has come down in my lap a few times before, and there was no reason not to do that again this time. After all, he was relaxed, we were not high, the ride down had only one small limb to pass, and he was in his own front yard and knew where he was.

I encouraged him to step down onto my lap, and he slowly placed both front paws on me. His back legs, however, remained on the tree for a while, as he pondered exactly where to put them. It seems like he gets bigger each time I rescue him, and he seemed to be a little too big to fit on my lap comfortably this time. But we made it work as I pulled him in a little closer to me, and we began our descent. We had to stop for a few seconds while I pushed us around a small limb, but it was a clear and easy ride the rest of the way down. Shortly before I reached the ground, as expected, he jumped down to the ground just as he had done in the past. He walked a large semi-circle around me, glanced at me with a nod of approval, and then Carol picked him up and carried him inside the house.

It was just another routine rescue for the coolest cat in town. He had been in the tree only since the previous evening, so his inconvenience lasted only half a day. Simba acted as if this had all worked out just the way he planned, and now he had important business that needed his attention such as eating and sleeping. So he went about his business, and I went about mine, happy to have had yet another encounter with the coolest cat in town.

I have no video or pictures of this rescue because of a camera malfunction. Honest. It was actually not my fault this time, and I am very disappointed. The picture above I had to steal from an earlier rescue. But I do have this picture of Simba after the rescue appearing to be a bit displeased with the interruption of his important business.


It was a hot, sunny mid-afternoon in Luling, so it came as a relief when Caysa led me down a path through the shade and woods just beyond her backyard. Her cat, Kiki, had been stuck in a tree in these woods for three days and nights already, and as we approached the tree, Caysa called out to Kiki who responded. If Kiki had not moved, I would not have seen her, but I got a brief glimpse of her as she paced on a limb about 50 feet high. Caysa told me that the limb she was currently on was the lowest she has been able to come down, but she had been much higher in the tree (circled in red) which is blocked from view in this picture by the foreground limb of a different tree.

The tree was a sweet gum with two equal-size trunks, and as expected for most trees in the woods down here, it was covered with vines. The limb that Kiki was on was just about the only one I could use to install my rope, but the trunk extended far above that, and I was not sure how much of that I could safely climb. I would need Kiki either to stay on that limb or to come down to me at least part of the way to make this rescue possible.

Kiki is only nine-months-old, and they adopted her when a friend discovered a litter of kittens next to a busy road. The friend felt compelled to take all the kittens and try to find a home for each of them, and that is when Caysa decided to adopt Kiki.  Kiki stays inside all the time, but lately has been getting a taste of the wild outdoors in very small, controlled doses. But something went wrong, and Kiki ran into the woods where she was now stuck in this tree.

The rope installation process went pretty well, but still the commotion I created in the tree was too much for Kiki. We did not see where she went, but it was clear she was not on the same limb anymore. Still, wherever she was, I hoped I could earn her trust and get her to come to me. I began to climb up to her, but as I did so, I realized I had not heard her cry in a while. I climbed all the way to the top of my rope on that limb at 50 feet, and I still did not hear her or see her. I pulled myself up on top of the limb and looked around. I could not see her on any of the few but long limbs, and I could not see her above me on the trunk at least 20 feet above me. The trunk was covered with vines and foliage, so it's possible that she was there but just not visible. She wasn't making a sound or a movement, and I didn't know where she could be.

Now I was wondering if she fell out of the tree unnoticed while I was installing my rope or climbing up to her. I asked Caysa to look around on the ground and to go back to the house to make sure she was not there. Caysa did so and reported seeing no sign of her. If Kiki fell, it is possible that she could be hiding somewhere until she feels safe to emerge and go home, so I still was not sure she was even in the tree. I looked and called, and Caysa looked and called too, but we never found a single sign of her.

This was getting mysterious, but I thought it most likely that she was up high at the tip top of the tree where I could not see her. If so, it was clear that she was not going to come down to me, and I did not feel safe climbing much higher on that trunk. I pondered cutting the top of the tree to force Kiki down and discussed that with Caysa. We could also wait till morning and hope to verify that Kiki is indeed in the tree and maybe find her more receptive to me. There are many risks associated with cutting the top of the tree, and I discussed them all with Caysa. She called her husband to talk it over with him, and we all decided to try again in the morning. So I came down and packed up but left my rope installed in the tree. That not only makes it easier for me in the morning, but it also eliminates the risk of frightening Kiki again with the rope installation.

That night, Caysa told me that she saw Kiki still in the tree, so I was glad to get confirmation of that. The following morning, I went over there as soon as I could to start anew. When I arrived, we saw Kiki in the tree, and I noticed how she responded to Caysa's voice when she talked in an excited, high-pitched manner. Kiki came down farther when hearing that voice and seemed to be more ready for me to rescue her, so I quickly began climbing up to her again.

Unfortunately, just like the day before, Kiki was not comfortable with my approach and climbed up to the tip top of the trunk well before I got close to her. At least this time we knew she was there. I climbed to the top of my rope and hoped to entice Kiki to come down. I could not see her, but I knew she was up there around 20 feet above me. The trunk at this point had few substantial limbs and was dominated by vines as it curved up in a slight, crooked spiral above me.

I was not having any luck eliciting any response from Kiki. I shook the treat bag that normally gets her running, but got no response. I opened a can of food and got the same reaction. I tried putting the food on the end of an extendable pole and reaching up into the foliage hopefully somewhere near her, but that failed when the food got caught in the vines and then fell to the ground. I called Caysa, put her on speakerphone and let her talk to Kiki, but, again, I got no response. Then I remembered how she reacted to Caysa's high-energy voice, so I told her to call her that way.

When Caysa began talking to Kiki with her high-pitched voice, Kiki responded. Kike began slowly finding her way down and now, at last, I could see her. Kiki carefully inched her way down till she was about 10 feet above me. At that point, she was out of my reach, and she seemed to reach an impasse as the trunk was now perfectly vertical and very difficult to negotiate. She had done it a few times before, but as I looked at it now, it was surprising that she ever did so. It would be tough and scary for her to come down that section to the next safe spot, and she stayed there for a long time before deciding that she could not do it. She turned around and headed back up to the top of the tree out of my sight again, and I watched helplessly as my heart and hope sunk. I told Caysa to stop calling Kiki to give them both a break.

I had to go up higher so that I could reach her at that impasse spot, but I was not very comfortable with the tree at that point. Comfortable or not, I slowly and carefully worked my way up with difficulty until I was within reach of that stopping spot, and once there, I told Caysa to start calling Kiki again.

Again, Kiki responded to Caysa's voice and slowly began working her way down again. It looked so awkward and dangerous for her at times, but she handled it all well and was soon back in that same spot where I could now touch her and greet her. She was very comfortable with me now and accepted my petting with complete trust. We were friends now, and she was in reach, so I finally felt like this rescue was going to work out after all. Since I had been shaking her treat bag, I felt obligated to give her a taste. After that, I tried to pull her out of her perch, but I could not see her back legs, and when I lifted her, it felt like her back leg may have been stuck. I put her back down and gave her a moment to move her leg, and when she did so, I lifted her up and out of her perch and pulled the cat bag over her. This little girl was finally safe and ready to go down.

I felt very relieved to be back on the ground again, and I handed the bag to Caysa. She took Kiki inside to release her while I packed my gear. When I finished packing everything, I went inside the house to check on Kiki. She was in the middle of the floor playing while everyone was around her watching. I approached her, and she was happy to see me. She started purring and rubbing her head into my hand. She looked like a perfectly normal and content kitty acting as if nothing ever happened.

After I left, Kiki settled down and took a good, long nap, and Caysa took this picture and sent it to me. After four nights up high in a tree, some comfortable sleep is just what she needs. And Caysa probably needs some rest too. It is hard to keep calling like that for the length of time that Kiki required to come down, but she stuck with it and made the difference in this rescue. If she had not been there and done that, this would have been a very different rescue. Thank you, Caysa.