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

Blackie

Pam's six-year old granddaughter, Allie, was distressed about her cat that was stuck in a tree. This had happened once before but with a different cat. When Allie's first cat got stuck in a tree, the fire department came out to help. Unfortunately, the way they chose to help was by aiming the water from their fire hose at the cat until it fell to the ground. While the cat survived the fall, he suffered some severe injuries to his spine and had to be put down. Now Allie's new kitten, which she named Blackie, was stuck in a tree, and all the efforts of everyone in the family to get it down failed. Allie was worried that Blackie would suffer the same fate as her first cat, and each night when she went to bed, she cried with worry for Blackie.

Blackie is a cute, eight-month old, black and white tuxedo cat, and for reasons unknown, she climbed up a large hickory tree next to the driveway. When I arrived, Blackie had been in the tree for four nights and was about 60 feet high and far out near the end of a long limb. As I prepared to climb the tree, Blackie moved around the tree quite freely. She came back to the trunk of the tree, came down some, walked out to the end of other branches on the opposite side of the tree and then returned to her original place. My rope installation process distressed her slightly, but I was pretty sure that she would be friendly to me once she had time to calm down.

I climbed up to where her limb reached the trunk while she watched me from a safe distance at the end of the limb. I talked to her a little, and she talked back. After only a few minutes, she decided that I was at least worth investigating further. She walked cautiously toward me but stopped when she got about five feet away. She turned around and went back a few feet because she was not yet convinced of my good intentions. After a few minutes, she came down toward me again, and this time came close enough to sniff my out-stretched hand. Usually, that act sets cats at ease, but Blackie seemed to sniff something troubling in my stinky glove and turned around and went back out again.

When I opened a can of food, however, she quickly overlooked all my faults and came down toward me again. This time, she came close and began to eat the food I held for her in my hand. In no time, I was petting her with my other hand, and she was perfectly comfortable with that. I pulled the food away and placed it in the back of the carrier while she watched. With no hesitation, she walked all the way inside the carrier. I closed the door and brought her down.

Once on the ground, I brought Blackie to Pam and then to Allie who was shy with me but, otherwise, all smiles. We all went inside and set the carrier down on the floor just inside the door. I opened the carrier, and Blackie darted out and to the back of the house to hide in her favorite hiding spot under Pam's bed. The food bowl in the carrier was empty, so Blackie had a full belly while she waited to emerge from hiding.


I packed up and left happy to know that Blackie was no longer suffering in the tree, and Allie would not be crying in bed tonight.



Si

"Let me warn you: this cat is mean." That is how Sarah first described her cat, Si, when she called me to see if I could rescue it out of a tree. She went on to explain that Si is very skittish, runs from strangers, does not like to be touched, hates carriers and sometimes bites or scratches. After hearing all that, I found myself looking for excuses to avoid this rescue, but I somehow found the courage to say that I would be there first thing in the morning.

Si's story is a painful and bittersweet one. She was just four weeks old when a law enforcement officer brought her to a local veterinarian who happens to be Sarah's father. The officer happened to notice some kids swinging a large sack against a brick wall, and he stopped to ask them what they were doing. He was shocked to see that they had several kittens in the sack they were apparently trying to kill. The officer took all the kittens to Sarah's father, but only one of the kittens survived. Sarah took the surviving kitten with the intention of fostering her until she was old enough and healthy enough to be adopted. Sarah nurtured, loved and cared for the kitten, and somehow, five years later, she is still there.

I know what to expect from cats like this, and I knew that there was no way that the cat would allow me to get close to her. I knew my rescue options were limited, but I thought that she would be a good candidate to scare down. The rope installation process I go through on every rescue often scares cats into climbing down, especially for skittish cats, so I thought there was a good chance Si would do so too. If so, then this could be a quick and easy rescue.

When I arrived the next morning, I met Sarah, and she pointed to Si in the tree just beyond her backyard fence. The tree was a sweet gum tree in an overgrown vacant lot, and Si was 30 feet high and very close to the top of the tree where the trunk had broken off long ago leaving an open wound that has been rotting steadily downward. After talking with Sarah about Si, we decided to first try to scare her down by shooting my weighted bag into the tree above her and creating a commotion in the foliage to frighten her. I shot my bag above her and jiggled it around, but Si had no reaction to it at all. Just to be sure, I did it again and got the same result. I am going to have to climb up there to get her.

I installed my rope on a limb just below Si, and, again, she did not react to it other than to step up just slightly higher. As I climbed up to her, I expected her to go up a little higher or walk out to the end of a limb to get away from me. She did neither. She stayed in place and remained quiet. Even when I was within arm's reach, she stayed put. I was not expecting this.

Si was not comfortable with my presence there, so I decided to be quiet for a while to give her some time to get used to me. She was on the opposite side of the tree trunk with her rear end on my left side and her head on the right side. After a few minutes, I opened a can of food and held it up to her. I could see she was interested, but she would not lower her head close enough to take a bite. I pulled the food back, quietly waited another minute and held it up to her again. I don't remember how many times I repeated this process, but to my surprise and delight, she eventually tasted the food and apparently liked it. I let her have a few bites and then pulled the food away again. Now, I wanted to work on getting her to let me touch her. I held my hand out to her to sniff, and I gently brushed her cheek with one finger. She fussed at me for that transgression, but at least it appeared to be a forgivable sin. I wanted to keep building on gentle touches until she learned to tolerate them. Next, I approached her from her back side with my left hand and gently touched her back while I fed her again with the other hand. She fussed about that too, but with repetition, I hoped she would eventually learn to allow it. I kept repeating this process until she stopped fussing at me. With the cat bag prepared on my left arm, I was eventually able to massage her neck while she ate, so I firmly grabbed her scruff and lifted her off the limb.

While every sin I had committed up this point had been forgivable, this lifting her by the scruff most certainly was not. Now, she was fighting mad, and her fussing instantly elevated to the point of extreme cussing and spitting. She grabbed onto the tree, but I pulled her away and quickly pulled the bag over her. It was not easy as her extended claws on extended legs snagged the bag at every movement, but with some luck and sweating, I was able to safely contain her in the bag. She continued her cussing and spitting fits in the bag, but I didn't mind. I was just relieved to have rescued her this way.

I brought Si down and handed her to Sarah. Sarah placed the bag on the floor just inside the front door and loosened the bag so Si could come out. I closed the door and stayed outside while watching through the glass partly because I didn't want to be in there when the little Tasmanian devil emerged and unleashed her revenge on me. With a little encouragement, Si found her way out of the bag and seemed surprised and relieved to be at home. Instead of emerging in a fury, she relaxed and seemed quite pleased. She trotted off to get away from the bag and to check out her territory. All is well again, and, to prove the point, Sarah sent to me this picture of Si reigning over her territory again from her countertop.

I sure hope Si does not get stuck in a tree again. Maybe I better get prepared with some good excuses.