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.



People often ask their neighbors to take care of their cat while they are out of town, but when this person in Natchez, Mississippi asked her neighbors to care for her cat, she introduced a new complication: her cat was stuck in a tree. The neighbor had to leave suddenly for a family emergency out of state, and the problem of getting her cat, Chester, down from the tree was dropped in the laps of Jolene, Peggy and John.

Jolene, Peggy and John worked very hard to get Chester down, but after all their many efforts failed, they eventually discovered Bob Reese, the rescuer of cats in trees in Mississippi. Bob referred them to me since I was located much closer to them.

Chester is a sweet, seven-month-old, orange-and-white kitty, and he was stuck about 30 feet high in a tree next to a wooden fence. By the time I climbed up to him, he had been stuck up there for three full days, and he was very happy to see me. I held a carrier up to him so he could walk inside, but he was hesitant to place any more than his front feet inside. As I prepared to open a can of food to give him a stronger reason to go inside, he stepped down to a lower limb. I gave him another chance go inside the carrier, and, this time, he stepped all the way in and settled down. I closed the door and brought him down. John, Peggy and Jolene took him home and were very happy and relieved now that Chester was down and their three days of stress were finally over.

Unknown Gray Tabby

Not every rescue I do is a "feel good" rescue, and this rescue of an unknown gray tabby was one of those. Most of the time when I rescue an unknown cat, it turns out to be a sweet, tame kitty, but, this time, I think she was feral. Feral cats often can't be rescued in a controlled way. They are so determined to get away from me that they would rather jump than allow me to get any closer to them, and that is what happened this time.

The strange thing about this rescue is that this is the second time in a row that I had to rescue a cat on the top of a utility pole. Like the first one, this pole did not have any dangerous high-voltage distribution wires attached to it, but it did have a service drop wire to a house in addition to telephone and cable TV wires. The top of the pole was hollow where it had rotted over the years leaving only the outer shell. Since the cat could not get comfortable there, she rested on top of the service drop wires while using the dense poison ivy vines to keep her balance.

I knew I was going to have a tough time making friends with this cat when I noticed she never made a single vocal sound the entire time I was there. Still, I had to try to break through that tough shell of hers to see if I could connect with her. I did not want her to jump to get away from me. I wanted to bring her down in a safe, contained way, not only for her safety, but also to bring her to the local shelter where she could be spayed and returned.

I tried using my charm and bribing her with food, but she just continued to stare at me with icy eyes. She usually had no reaction to my offers of friendship, but when she did, it was to move away from me. So I was surprised when, after several attempts to let her sniff my hand, she finally reached over to sniff it. I was grateful for that one concession from her even though it appeared to have no effect on her opinion of me.

When I opened a can of food for her and reached it out to her, she backed away in fear. Even though I knew what her reaction would be, I decided to hold an open carrier up to her to see if she would be attracted to the much more comfortable accommodations inside. Before I could get the carrier close to her, she started turning away, so I put it away.

The only option I had at that point was to try to bag her, but the tiny touches I had given her tail, were unappreciated. Still, I did not know what else to try but to get her habituated to my touch. I prepared my bag on my arm, but when I reached my hand up to her with the bag on my arm, she recognized that as something different and not to be trusted. This time she jumped down from the top of the pole to the wire below and began to walk away. She went out of my reach, looked down at the ground and jumped to a soft, grassy area and then ran under the house for safety.

I was glad that she was down and appeared to be fine, but I was disappointed that I could not bring her down safely and take her to the local shelter. Sometimes, that's the best I can do, so I left hoping this cute girl has someone who feeds her so that she can recover from her long and miserable eight days on the top of a pole. And I hope that whoever feeds her can get her spayed if she has not been spayed already. Though, I suspect she has not, and that is the reason she climbed the pole.