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 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.



Evie is a sweet, nine-month-old gray tabby girl who got stuck in a Sweet Gum tree in her own, fenced-in backyard. We don't know why she climbed the tree, but the more her family tried to coax her down, the higher she went. Up was the only direction she could figure out, and by the time I arrived, she was 45 feet high and very near the top of the tree.

While Evie would generally be expected to run away from strangers under normal circumstances, it turned out that, after spending four nights in the tree, she was actually happy to see me, and I was grateful for that. After all, after climbing as high as I could safely go in that tree, I still had to reach for her, so if she had gone any higher, the rescue would have been much more difficult and risky due to the rotting stem she was on. But Evie was friendly and cooperative, so all I had to do was lift her out of her perch and put her in the bag.

Evie is doing fine now and has returned to doing her favorite things: eating, sleeping and running to the bathroom when she hears the water in the shower being turned on, because she loves to watch the water running down the glass shower door. The last picture shows her getting some sleep with her big brother, Bijoux.


Hundreds of people passed by on the interstate without ever noticing this small but mighty and desperate kitty crying loudly over and over for someone to help her down from this tree. She could have been in clear view of everyone who passed, but no one noticed because she was in just one of countless, crowded trees lining the highway, and she was too small to stand out and not loud enough to be heard. Even though hundreds of people passed by, she was unknown and all alone as she sat 35 feet high near the top of a tree. Fortunately, on the other side of this swath of trees lining the interstate, there were some homes, and in one of them, an officer with the sheriff's office heard her crying over the noise of the interstate traffic and cared enough to investigate. It took him a while to find her, since she was well hidden up high in the foliage, but a quick call to the parish animal shelter led him to me.

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to this rescue. After all, it was an unknown cat, it was next to the interstate, and the tree was in a wild, overgrown, wooded area. On the other hand, at least the weather was mild, and the cat was crying loudly and almost constantly to people which suggests it was likely a tame cat.

I drove to the sheriff officer's home so he could show me where the cat was, but he was unavailable at that time. I could hear the cat crying over the noise of the interstate traffic, but locating it was difficult. The swath of trees separating the interstate highway from the homes was about 30 feet wide, and there was a barb-wire fence running along the tree line. I found a place where the fence and the undergrowth allowed me to get through the fence and into the woods, and then I was finally able to find a place where I could see through the foliage of the undergrowth and locate the cat. It was a small calico crying her little lungs out, and she was near the top of a Sweet Gum tree which, like all the trees in this swath, was well covered with vines. The tree was right on the edge of the tree line on the interstate side. It was only when I stepped out into the clearing next to the interstate that I was able to see clearly up into the tree and find a good place to install my rope. I would have to approach this tree from the interstate side. There was an old, abandoned, deflated and sun-bleached basketball I found in the woods, so I threw it out into the grass next to the interstate to mark the exact spot, and then I went back to my truck, got on the interstate and pulled my truck far off the pavement at that spot.

I am very sensitive to noise, and the interstate is a noisy place, so I put in some earplugs and went to work on getting my rope in that tree. There was only one limb above the cat, so I installed my rope there and felt very lucky that I managed to do so with very little difficulty considering the trouble the vines could have caused. With this tree on the edge of the woods, the vines had more sunlight to help them grow into a dense, vigorous mass. There were all kinds of vines: poison ivy, of course, as well as muscadine, honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper and some others I did not recognize.

Climbing up to the cat was difficult and slow, because I had to stop often to untangle myself and my gear from the vines and break others out of my way to clear a path upward. The cat had her back to me as I approached her, but once I was there, she turned around and was not alarmed at all. She was happy to see me and placed her front paws on a lower limb closer to me while leaving her hind feet up on the higher limb. She remained relaxed and readily let me pet her. This was a very sweet girl, and I was so happy to see that she would be easy to rescue. All I had to do was hold the carrier in front of her and give her some reassuring pets, and she walked right on inside. The vines made the ride down just as annoying and troublesome as the climb up, but after a few minutes, we were both safely down on the ground again.

Now comes the hard part. This is an unknown cat, so what do I do with it? She is not wearing a collar and her ear is not tipped. Given her small size, she is probably a juvenile and not likely to have been spayed yet. The first thing to do is get off the side of the interstate and go back to her original territory to see if anyone there recognizes her. I packed up my gear and we both got back in the truck for the lengthy ride back to her home territory with her crying loudly the whole time. Once we got there, while we were still inside the closed truck, I let her out of the carrier to check her for a microchip and to feed her. When I let her out, she came to my lap and rubbed her head on my legs. This little girl was working her way into my heart very fast. Not surprisingly, I found no microchip, so I opened a can of food for her and set it inside the carrier. She walked back inside to eat, and I closed the door so I could carry her around the neighborhood to see if she belonged to anyone. No one recognized her.

I love rescuing cats out of trees, but figuring out what to do with these unknown cats is often a problem for me. I can't keep them all, so I called my cat expert friend, Melanie, to see if she had any ideas. Melanie came to my rescue by offering to take responsibility for the cat. She was certain she could find a foster and a good home for this sweet cat. All I had to do was keep her overnight and then take her to Melanie's vet in the morning to get checked out. Melanie made the arrangements with her vet, and I took the cat home with me.

At home with the cat released from the carrier, I began to learn what a gem I had here. This little girl was not only sweet, she was super-sweet. She had no trouble at all adapting to this new environment and was soon confidently taking ownership of the room with her tail up. When new people walked into the room, she happily greeted them. She frequently would jump on my lap or come to me for some loving. She was very comfortable being picked up and held. She liked being close to my face, so if I reclined, she would rest on my chest or next to my head. She rubbed against me and gave me head-butts. She was a dream cat, and I was already thinking about keeping her, but I knew my other cats would not tolerate her.

The next morning, I reluctantly left her with Melanie's vet. Later that day, I learned the vet estimated her age to be seven months due to her adult teeth, even though she weighed only three pounds. Still, except for fleas, she checked out very good and tested negative for both FIV and FeLV. Melanie needed to name this sweet kitty, so she asked her friends on Facebook for suggestions. Since she was rescued from a tree, someone suggested a tree name, and "Willow" was eventually selected.

The following day, I asked Melanie for an update on the cat, and she told me that the foster mom was unable to take her after all, so Melanie was looking for another foster. That was all I needed to hear. I offered to foster her myself, so I went back to the vet to get her and bring her home, and she is sleeping beside me on my desk now as I type this. Melanie still has some good ideas about finding a good home for this sweet girl, and I am certain that will happen.

We are checking the Lost Pets pages frequently for any reports of a missing cat like her, but, so far, no one is reporting her. She clearly has belonged to someone, but we don't know who it could be. Until then, she will be spayed and well cared for until a new home is found, and whoever adopts her will be getting a gem.