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.

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.

Images

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

2018
https://youtu.be/DFUabWnwg2o

2017

2016

Mangus

BJ called me early that morning after someone referred him to me in response to his Facebook post. His daughter had a cat that was stuck in a tree, and she had just found him there after he went missing two days earlier. The cat's name is Mangus, and he is strictly an indoor cat, but he has recently picked up the bad habit of darting out the door when someone opens it just a little too long. He normally returns in just a few minutes, but this time, he did not return. The family looked for him but could not find him until after his second night away. Mangus was near the top of a near-vertical limb in a bushy tree in a neighbor's backyard two houses down.

BJ was at work, but his wife, Shannon, met me there at the neighbor's house which belongs to Joey. Joey was very helpful and cooperative and welcomed us into his backyard. He had already gone to great lengths to rescue Mangus himself, but Mangus was not in a spot that is easy to reach. Mangus actually belongs to Kaitlin, BJ and Shannon's daughter, and she wanted to be there for the rescue but happened to be very ill at that moment and was unable to leave the house. Kaitlin found Mangus about six months earlier at a gas station where he was wandering around as a homeless kitten. She fell in love with him and decided to take him home where she kindly gave him a place to call his own.

The tree Mangus was in was very bushy and dense, and I would not be able to climb it in the usual manner. Joey already had a ladder in place to the lowest limb, so I used it to get started, and then I began to weave and squeeze myself through the gauntlet of limbs toward Mangus. Mangus was in a bad spot and was very limited in his movement. He couldn't go higher, and the limb was too steep for him to go down lower. To make matters worse, he had trouble grabbing the limbs with his claws, and his feet would slide downward a bit. He balanced himself between two small limbs, and it must have been miserable for him to be stuck there for so long.


As I got closer to him, he did not seem alarmed. I could not quite reach him with my hands, but I was close enough that I could hold a carrier up to him. I did not bring the carrier up into the tree with me because there was so little room for it to fit between the branches, but with Joey's help attaching it to my rope on the ground, I could now pull it up into the tree with me. Since Mangus was so uncomfortable for so long, I thought he would be happy to see a spacious carrier with a large, flat floor where he could rest. I held it up to him, and he looked inside, placed his front paws just inside the door, and inspected it carefully, but ultimately decided against going inside. He pulled back, and I decided to give him more reason to go inside. I opened a can of food, and he was excited to see that. I gave him a bite, and when I began to pull it away, he reached out with his claws to pull it back. He wanted more, but I put the food in the back of the carrier. I held the carrier up to him again, and, again, he considered it at length before deciding, once again, that he did not want to go in.


I pulled myself up a little higher so I could get closer to him. Now I was within reach and gave my hand to him to sniff. He sniffed it and let me pet him. We were proper friends now, so I gave him another bite of food and put the food back in the carrier. One more time, I held the carrier up to him and this time he felt a little more comfortable with it. He slowly stepped inside, and once his back feet were in, I gently pulled him closer to me and closed the door.

I could not bring him down with me in the usual way, so I slowly lowered him straight down to the ground with my rope. Once he was on the ground, Shannon picked up the carrier and walked him home and released him there. I weaved and squeezed my way through the limbs back down to the ground and packed up my gear.

Later that day, Shannon and BJ sent to me these pictures of Mangus happy to be home and recovering from his long, miserable time in the tree by sleeping in a soft, comfortable bed. Sleep well, Mangus. And stop darting out the door.




Skylar

When I get a call for a rescue, I love it when I hear the caller say that their cat loves people, including strangers. I did not hear that this time. In fact, Pamela told me that her cat, Skylar, an eight-month-old calico girl that was raised in her home since birth, does not like strangers. The encouraging news, however, was that it would likely be possible to make friends with her in time. So, off I went to rescue Skylar knowing in advance that I would need to be patient with her in order to gain her trust and cooperation.

Skylar was only 25 feet high in a large, easy-to-climb sweet gum tree, and she was resting about 10 feet out on a long limb. What concerned me was that her limb was directly above two fences -- one wooden, one chain link -- that ran in parallel to each other a few inches apart and along the same direction as the outer part of the limb. The fences would be a serious risk to her if she fell, so I wanted to be sure I did not give her any reason to be afraid of me. If she went out to the end of the limb where her footing would be less secure, she could possibly fall onto the fences below.

I easily installed my rope in the tree without disturbing Skylar and climbed up along the trunk of the tree to her limb. She watched me as I reached her height and remained calm and in place. So far, so good. I spoke to her and reached my hand out to her, but she had no response to that. I spent a few minutes with her there hoping she would just miraculously walk along the limb to me, but, of course, that miracle didn't happen.

I opened a can of food and showed it to her. No response. In fact, I was having trouble getting her attention. She either would not look in my direction or she would lie down and close her eyes as if to sleep. I put the food on the end of an extendable pole and placed it close to her. Now, I was getting her attention. She looked at it, sniffed the air and decided this was worth investigating. She stepped up to the food and sniffed again. She took a bite and seemed to like it. Now, I was feeling confident that I could lure her closer and closer to me and get this little girl down, but each time I pulled the food a few inches farther away, she refused to go closer to it. In fact, she seemed to have the opposite reaction: she turned around and walked farther away. After a few minutes, she came back to her favorite spot on the limb, and we started this dance all over again, each time with the same result.

Up to this point, I had been hanging by my rope level with her limb, because I was reluctant to get higher and appear more imposing or threatening to her. But now it was necessary to get up on her limb and go out a little farther toward her. If I had stood up on her limb, I would have towered over her, and she may have felt more intimidated by that. So, instead, I pulled myself up to her limb and sat on it. She did not seemed to be bothered by that. I gradually worked my way out toward her and tried the food bribe again, but, again, I had the same result. She liked and wanted the food, but she would not come closer to me.

She got back in her sleeping position again, so I decided to just be patient and appear uninterested in her to give her time to learn to trust me better. More time passed, and I was still not making any progress with her. I could have stood up and gone much farther out her limb toward her, but I was afraid that she would go out to the end of the limb and fall on the fences below. I wanted to be safe and just wait for her to come around. I called Pamela and asked her to talk to Skylar through my speakerphone to see if Skylar would respond to her voice. That failed too.

It wasn't until Pamela came out into the yard and began calling and pleading with Skylar to come to her, that Skylar finally began to wake up and show some improvement. Skylar called out to her and walked closer to me, but still stopped short of me. I held the food out for her, and she would take steps toward it, but she was still reluctant to come all the way. She rubbed her head on the limb several times while thinking about it and walked a little closer to me. Again, she stopped short, turned around and went back out. We played this routine several times, each time getting a little closer to me, before she finally found the courage to actually sniff the food again. She seemed okay with my hand holding the food, but each time I reached my hand closer to her, she backed away. I let her have some more bites of food, and, each time, I tried to touch her. She did not like for me to touch her and pulled away each time, but after doing this several times, she reluctantly tolerated it enough to let me pet her gently while she ate. The first time I had a chance to grab her scruff, I took it and gently lifted her while pulling the bag over her. She did not complain or struggle one bit.

I brought her down and gave her to Pamela. She took Skylar, still in the bag, inside the house to release her there. After I packed up, I carried my gear back to the truck and passed very closely by Skylar while she was eating. She was intent on eating and did not let my presence interrupt her. She was a tough cookie to rescue and made this rescue take far too much time, but she is down now and doing well, and that is what matters.