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

Gravy

Scott was at work when he found a small kitten resting in a dangerous place under a pallet. Since there were no other kittens or mama cat anywhere near, he decided to take the kitten home with him. The female kitten was small enough to fit in his hand, but he and his girlfriend, Kelly, took care of it as it grew into the healthy, two-year-old adult that it is today. They named her Gravy, a name which may seem at first puzzling until you learn that she got along so well with their other cat, Biscuit.

Gravy went two houses down the street and got chased by a dog up a neighbor's backyard tree. After some searching, Scott finally found her the next morning on Easter and worked to get her down. Coaxing her down did not work, and she was too high to reach with a ladder. The sympathetic neighbors also offered assistance, but nothing was helping. After searching the internet, Scott found me and gave me a call. By this time, it was getting late in the afternoon on Easter Sunday, but if all worked out reasonably well, then I would have enough time to complete the rescue before dark.

After I arrived and met Scott, he led me to the neighbor's house where I met a very nice family enjoying a crawfish boil in their backyard, a common Easter ritual here in south Louisiana. They warmly welcomed us there and interrupted their eating to show me where the cat was in their tree. I looked up and struggled to see through the dense foliage before finding Gravy settled next to the trunk on a large limb about 25 feet high. The top of the tree leaned slightly, and I could find only one good place to tie my rope that would allow me comfortable access to the place where Gravy was settled. But, more importantly, I realized that I would not be able to do the rescue at that moment, because the family was eating their crawfish on a table set up under the tree. Under the tree is not a safe place to be for all the activity I had in mind, so I told Scott that this would have to wait till morning. When the neighbors overheard me say that, however, they insisted on moving their table as well as their vehicles which were also nearby even though they were in the middle of their meal. I helped them move their table and chairs to a safer place, and they settled back into their meal anxious to see the entertainment I was about to provide.

Scott told me that Gravy was definitely skittish with strangers, so she would likely try to get away from me. However, she was also capable of making friends with a stranger in time as long as they appear friendly. With that information, I wanted to be sure that I approached her very carefully, because she could climb up much higher either up the trunk or up her steeply-ascending limb, and it would be very difficult to reach her then.

I climbed up through the dense foliage with difficulty and stopped once I was about six feet below Gravy. She looked at me, and I spoke gently to her. I could see her looking up the trunk of the tree for an escape route, so I stayed there for a few minutes to give her time to calm down and see that I was not threatening her. Then I inched up a little higher, again talking to her and extending my hand toward her in a friendly way. She was staying in place, but she continued to look up the trunk for an escape. Each time she looked up, I gave her some more time before advancing any higher, and each time I moved higher, I did so very slowly and in small increments. After a while, I was just within reach of her, and I reached my hand out to her to sniff. Fortunately, she was very curious to sniff my hand and quickly reached down to do so. I let her sniff for a few seconds, and then I gently stroked her cheek with one finger. With that small gesture, I could see her melt with relief. She encouraged me to stroke her some more, and I happily did so. I inched up some more and was soon petting her freely, and she was enjoying it and pushing her head into my hand. I was very relieved to know we had established a friendship and that this rescue would likely be over soon.

Scott had told me earlier that Gravy was afraid of carriers, so I did not even bring it up into the tree with me. It would have been difficult to carry through the dense foliage anyway, so I prepared the cat bag on my arm and petted her some more. Gravy was still friendly with me and soon gave me an good opportunity to pull up the scruff of her neck. I gently pulled her off her perch and inverted the bag over her. This sweet little girl was now secured in the bag and ready to go home.

I went back down and handed the bag to Scott, and he promptly took Gravy back home where he released her. He came back a few minutes later to return the bag while I packed up my gear. He and Kelly were greatly relieved to have their beloved kitty back home and safe again. Scott helped me carry my gear back to my truck, and we both expressed our gratitude to the neighbors who were so extremely accommodating to allow us to disturb their family crawfish boil.

Even before I arrived back home, Scott sent me a picture of Gravy who had already settled in for some serious recovery sleep. She had been in the tree for at least 24 hours, and that was much too long for her. She did not like that one bit, and was very happy to be back down on the ground and in the comforts of home again.



Bandit

I love cats, but one of the aggravating things about them is their terrible sense of timing. When they cause difficulties or get into trouble, you can be sure it will be at some of the most inconvenient times: minutes before you leave the house to go to work or catch a flight at the airport, when you are in the shower, when guests arrive, or, in this case, getting stuck in a tree just before severe storms are due to arrive. That is what Bandit did.

Bandit is a one-year-old, gray and white cat that belongs to 11-year-old Keaton. They have been together since Bandit was a kitten, and Bandit sleeps in bed with Keaton every night. They have strongly bonded with each other, so when Bandit disappeared, Keaton was very distressed. The family searched for Bandit and eventually found him in a tree around the corner from their house in Denham Springs. They tried their best to get him down, but he was out of their reach, and Bandit could not be coaxed down on his own. By this time, darkness had fallen, so they reluctantly put off their rescue attempts until morning.

Keaton's father, Donald, called the Fire Department the next morning, and they kindly came out to see if they could get Bandit down. Their ladder was not long enough to reach Bandit, but I admire them for trying. Rescuing cats in trees is not one of their duties, but sometimes they will do it out of the goodness of their hearts. As they left, they gave my contact information to Donald, and he called me right away.

By the time I got the call, it was 10:00 AM, and a severe storm had been forecast to arrive around noon. The storm was forecast to be so severe that schools and government offices chose to close for the day, which is very rare. Already, light rain was forming ahead of the storm front, and I needed some time to get ready and another 30 minutes just to drive to the site. I had serious doubts about being able to start, much less finish, this rescue before the heavy thunderstorms arrived, but I thought about that kitty stuck in the tree during that storm, and I felt compelled to give it a try.


I rushed out there as quickly as I could and met Donald and his son, Keaton. They led me around the corner to the tree where Bandit was being held captive. Bandit was 30 feet high on the lowest limb of the tree, and there were some good places high above him to use to install my rope. In order for this rescue to be done quickly, I needed an easy tree to climb and an easy cat to rescue. The tree looked fine, so now I needed Bandit to be cooperative. While Bandit is not a cat to boldly greet a stranger, he can make friends with one in time, so I had hope that I could make friends with him. The rain was holding off, and I heard no sounds of thunder in the distance, so I began to install my rope.

When I set up my very large sling shot to shoot the weighted bag into the tree, Keaton became alarmed, because he thought I was going to use it to shoot Bandit out of the tree. I reassured him that I intended to shoot the bag very high in the tree above Bandit and I had no intention of causing any harm to Bandit. In my rush to get this rescue done, I was failing to consider how distressed and worried Keaton had been about this whole ordeal.

Fortunately, the rope installation process went fairly quickly, but the commotion I created in the tree frightened Bandit. He was settled down about 10 feet out on the limb and remained there, so I was not worried about him coming back to the trunk and climbing higher. He could, however, go farther out on his limb, but the limb was not super long, and I would be able to go out there to get him if that became necessary.

I climbed up the tree and approached Bandit slowly. He called out to me and remained crouched down in the same spot. I pulled myself level with him and calmly called him. I was not expecting him to come straight to me right away, but I would have been very happy if he had. Before I climbed up the tree, Keaton gave me a large container of treats that they often use to call Bandit to them. When they shake the container, Bandit always comes running. I pulled that container out and gave it a shake. Sure enough, Bandit responded to it and stood up. He did not come running to me, but at least I had him interested and moving in the right direction.

Bandit took only a few steps toward me and stopped there and sat down again. He talked to me frequently and responded to the calls of the family below, but he did not come any closer. I spent another couple minutes coaxing him and shaking the treats to no avail, but when he heard the sound of my unscrewing the cap to the treat container, he perked up and began to walk toward me. I had already placed the carrier on the limb facing him, and he seemed more interested in it than the treats. I had not even pulled any treats out of the container, and there was no food inside the carrier. In spite of that, Bandit walked past me straight into the carrier without any concern about me at all. I petted his back as he walked inside. He went all the way inside, and I closed the door. He was calm and relaxed even after the door was closed. He seemed to trust me and know that this was a good thing.

Bandit was perfectly quiet and calm as I brought him down. I placed the carrier on the ground, and Keaton came over to greet him. He squatted down and put his finger through the carrier door, and Bandit sniffed it knowing that he was safe again. Keaton had been worried about Bandit, but now he was visibly relieved and calm again. It was a great pleasure for me to see him reconnecting with his buddy. With the exchange of a simple gesture and gaze, their bond was restored. He did not say a word, but he did not need to do so. It was clear to me that he was happy again, and that is all the thanks I wanted. As if that were not enough, Keaton got up and, without a word, gave me a strong, heartfelt hug. I could not have been happier, and I was so glad that I chose to attempt this rescue in spite of the weather threat.


Keaton and Donald walked Bandit back home while I packed up. I stopped by their house on the way out to pick up the carrier. They kindly offered me water and brownies, but I wanted to get home before the bad weather started. I drove off as light rain began to fall. The rain became heavier and harder the closer I got to home, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and I made it home safely and with a warm feeling in my heart.

Later that evening, Donald sent this picture of Bandit to me. Bandit found a cardboard box with several rags in it, made a comfortable bed there and fell into a deep sleep.