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

Weasel

Missy just happened to be at the humane society one day and noticed a litter of six kittens in the euthanasia room. The kittens were about four weeks old, very sick with severe upper respiratory and eye infections and only minutes away from being euthanized. Missy thought these kittens could be saved, so she sprung into action. She took them home with her and contacted her friend, Lori, for help. In spite of their heroic efforts, medications and syringe feedings, four of the kittens died, but Lori took the other two home with her and began to nurse them back from the brink of death. Because of the infections, the kittens had not yet been able to open their eyes, but after medication and Lori's loving care, they did at last open their eyes for the first time, and it was Lori that they saw.

Lori's intention was to foster them while she nursed them back to health and then make them available for adoption, but with their numerous health problems including corneal ulcers, permanent respiratory problems and special feedings, she knew they would have to go to someone special. As time passed and her bond with these two kittens deepened even further, it became clear to her that she would not be able to let them go anyway. They sleep with her, lay in her lap, watch TV with her and listen to her every word. These two boys were family now, and she named them Weasel and Hawk.

That was two years ago. Weasel and Hawk have now grown up and thrived in their home with Lori. They stay inside the house and the catio at all times, but recently, the catio door was left open too long, and Weasel shot out the doorway and was promptly chased up a pine tree in the back yard by one of their dogs. Weasel had never been outside before, much less in a tree, and he was out of his element. It quickly became clear to Lori that Weasel didn't know how to climb down and was stuck up there.

Weasel cried to Lori below, and she and her husband, Keith, did everything they could to get Weasel down, including making their own ladder using pine branches. They placed several cushions on the ground beneath Weasel in case he fell. They even found a place where they could rent an exceptionally tall ladder for an outrageous amount of money. Of course, they called the fire department and tree service companies in their coastal Mississippi area, but no one could help. Then they found Bob Reese, the renowned cat rescuer of Mississippi, but he was located in Starkville, and they were located far out of his usual range. In spite of the distance, Lori contacted Bob anyway and learned that he was not available, but he referred her to me instead. Lori contacted me, and I agreed to go out there the following morning, after Weasel's second night in the tree.

By the time I arrived, Weasel had climbed all the way up to the top of the tree. He was now about 55 feet high, and he could not go any higher. Fortunately, the pine tree appeared healthy and was large enough to support me, so I should be able to get close to him. Combine that with Weasel's friendly nature, and the rescue should be straightforward.

I tried to set my line up high in the tree below Weasel, but I ran into some difficulties and ended up having to set it about 30 feet high instead. I climbed my rope up to that point and then began working my way higher up the tree until I was within reach of Weasel. I extended my hand up to him and he readily sniffed it. This introduction was a mere formality to him, because he was going to be friendly and happy to see me no matter who it was. He was resting his body across three small limbs, and I needed to get a little higher to lift him off his perch. I took a few minutes to get higher, but Weasel was getting a little impatient and made a little effort to come down to me, sometimes putting his paw on my hand. He did not want to miss this chance for a ride down, and he was not going to let me go without him.


With him just above my head, I decided it would be safest to let him walk into the carrier. I pulled up the carrier, opened the door and held the open end up to him. He looked inside, determined it to be satisfactory and stepped inside. I pulled him down, closed the door and secured him to my harness. This little boy was safe now, and it's time to take him home.


I brought him down and gave him to Lori and Keith. They took him inside and released him there, and they were both very relieved and appreciative. It had been a stressful three days for them while they worried about their kitty in the tree, and now it was over.

I packed up and drove home while Weasel settled back into his routine. He is getting great care and attention there and enjoying being back in the comforts of home. Lori sent this picture to me later showing him sleeping peacefully in his comfortable bed. That is such a welcome and satisfying contrast to the sleepless discomfort of the tree. Sleep well, Weasel. And please stay inside.




Nala

Rod and Melinda just recently moved all the way down to Biloxi, Mississippi from the western part of Washington state where there are numerous rescuers of cats stuck in trees from which to choose if they had needed it. But they never needed that. Just two months after they moved, however, they suddenly found themselves in need when their eight-month old orange tabby girl, Nala, climbed up high in a tree in their yard. Now they found their options very limited. The only rescuer they could find in the whole state of Mississippi was Bob Reese up in the northern part of the state, but it was too far to expect him to go all the way down to the coast for a rescue. Nevertheless, they contacted him just in case, and he referred them to me, since I was much closer. They contacted me, and I agreed to go out there the next morning, Nala's fourth day in the tree.

The next morning, I left as early as I could, and, when I arrived, I met Melinda who led me to Nala. Nala was in a bad spot. She was about 55 feet high on a nearly-vertical stem near the top of the tree, and she was perched uncomfortably on small limbs. Normally, I like to set my rope in the tree above the cat, but that would not be possible this time because Nala was already near the top and there were no sizable limbs above her. The only place to install my rope that I could see was just five feet below her, and I was a bit hesitant to try to shoot my weighted bag over that crotch so close to Nala. It's not possible to aim the large sling-shot with that much precision at that distance, so I was concerned about hitting her. Fortunately, though it took me five times to shoot the bag where I wanted, I did eventually hit my target without hitting Nala.

I installed my rope and began to climb up to her through some narrow spaces between branches while pulling out some dead branches and cutting a small branch to make room for my passage. I climbed up as high as my rope allowed, but I was still below Nala. I used another rope to pull myself up closer to her and was now close enough to let her sniff my hand. She very calmly and sweetly sniffed and allowed me to touch her. I brushed my finger across her face and petted her head, and she was very comfortable with that. I was very relieved to see that she would be cooperative, but also a bit concerned about how I was going to get her out of her perch. I would need to lift her up out of the narrow crotch her body was in, so I needed to get yet a little higher. By pulling myself up to stand in the crotch where my rope was installed and securing myself with another rope, I was able to reach her well enough.


I prepared my cat bag on one hand and pulled myself up to her. I petted her some more and then began to pull her out of the crotch toward me with one hand while lifting and pushing her rear end through the crotch with the other hand. Once her back legs were on the crotch, I grabbed her by the scruff, pulled her free and pulled the bag over her. That sweet girl never squirmed or uttered a single sound while I bagged her and brought her down.


Once on the ground, I handed her over to Melinda who took her inside. She graciously allowed me to follow her inside to see the release. That's often my favorite part, so I always appreciate that opportunity. She set Nala on a bed and opened the bag for her. Nala knew right away that she was home and safe. Melinda picked her up and kissed her, but like most cats, Nala didn't like to be kissed and she pulled away. Besides, she had more important things to do right now. She was hungry and wanted to eat. Melinda set her down by her food and water bowls, and Nala began to eat. I thanked Nala for being so cooperative and said goodbye. So what if it was a hot day and a difficult climb and a two-hour drive. Once I see Nala safe and happy back home and Melinda relieved to have her baby back in her arms, it's so, so worth it.