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 201 - 300

Rescues 101 - 200

Rescues 1 - 100

Rescue Stories
Below this section is the story of my most recent rescue.  For this 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.


Gris Gris

Gris Gris (gree-gree) is an indoor-only cat who escaped and climbed a sketchy Sweet Gum tree in a wooded area near her home in Baton Rouge. She climbed a skinny, near-vertical stem looking for a comfortable place to rest, but there wasn't one. She kept climbing until she was 40 feet high where she settled on a small, uncomfortable limb, and she started crying for help. Courtney, her owner, found her quickly and tried to coax Gris Gris down, but Gris Gris simply did not know how to climb straight down that skinny stem. Courtney cares deeply for her kitty, so she didn't waste any time finding me to see if I could help. When she called me, her kitty had been stuck in the tree only two hours.

I was a bit dismayed to see the tree that Gris Gris had chosen to climb. This small, crooked tree trunk rose about 20 feet where the top had apparently broken off long ago. That wound caused two new stems to sprout on opposite sides of the new top, and both of these new stems rose almost vertically for another 30 feet or so. Over the time that these new stems were growing, the broken top of the trunk where they emerged had been rotting, and there was a small, water-filled hollow there. Fortunately, there was still enough structure to the tree left to support those stems for now, but, because these new stems sprouted after the wound, they were more weakly attached to the tree. They were large enough that I could trust them with my weight up to a point, but I did not want to stress them very much lest they snap off.

As I began to climb up the new stem toward Gris Gris, I was paying attention to the reaction of the stem. Down low on the stem, all was fine, but the higher I climbed, the farther from the vertical center of the trunk I was getting and the more leverage my weight was applying to the weak junction of the stem with the trunk. To lessen the stress, I tied in to the opposite stem as well. That kept me closer over the center of the trunk and distributed the stress to both stems while also pulling the two stems closer together.

As I carefully and slowly climbed up to Gris Gris, I could see she was excited to see me coming for her. She was hot and panting and wanted badly to come down to greet me but could not figure out a safe way to do that. Since she couldn't come down, she stepped across to the other stem hoping that one would be better. There she began to lose her footing, so to get control again, she did what she knew she could do: climb up. She climbed even higher than before on the second stem, and now I was worried. I could not go to the wispy tops of these stems, but Gris Gris saved me and somehow managed to come back down to where she was. Then she managed to slide down even closer to me, and, at that point, I knew I could reach her. I inched my way a little higher and was finally barely within reach. I held an open carrier up to her, but, to my surprise, she did not walk inside. I put the carrier away and prepared the cat bag. I petted her and massaged her scruff and then lifted her off her tiny limb and secured her in the bag. She didn't complain one bit.

Courtney was extremely relieved and happy to have her baby safe in her arms again, and she repeatedly expressed her gratitude to me. It's a wonderful feeling for me to be able to do something that brings that much relief and joy to a person, and it is also a joy for me to get a sweet, cute cat like Gris Gris out of a miserable situation like that. Yes, this is fun.