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

Abby

I know better than most people just how important a pet cat can be to a person. I fully understand that, when I rescue a cat in a tree, I am also rescuing the owner as well. That is one of the reasons I do this. Knowing that the rescue is so important and meaningful to the cat owner makes it that much more meaningful and rewarding for me. Many times, it is very easy to see how the owner feels after the rescue because they show their joy or great relief or tears, but many times, they do not show their feelings on the outside regardless of what they may feel inside. And sometimes, I focus so much on the cat during the rescue that I fail to think about the owner afterward.

Yesterday, I rescued a black cat named Abby for Linda. Abby is four years old and has lived happily with Linda since she was a four-week-old kitten. Abby got stuck about 15 feet high in the next-door neighbor's sweet gum tree and had been there only half a day when Linda gave up on her efforts to get her down and called me. The rescue was simple and quick, taking all of two minutes once I started to climb. Abby was skittish and did not want to have anything to do with me, so, once I was level with her, she decided to get away from me and go down the tree. She climbed down head-first as best she could for the first six feet or so and then was forced to jump to the ground from there. She was not very high and landed on soft ground, and she appeared to be just fine as she ran out of sight toward home a very short distance away.

I packed my gear and was loading it into the truck while talking with Linda. Abby was hiding outside somewhere, and Linda was concerned about her coming home. I told her that most cats will hide until they feel it is safe to emerge and that I expected Abby would come out in an hour or two. Up to this point, Linda had been clearly concerned about her cat but was not overtly emotional. But then her eyes welled up and in a tense, breaking voice she told me that her husband had died just three weeks ago. Then in that instant I knew just what this cat meant to her, and that she feared losing it too. My heart erupted with ache for her. I wanted to hug her, but I was so sweaty and stinky that I held back. I should have hugged her anyway; I think she would have understood.

In that moment, this simple, routine rescue of a cat that had been stuck for only half a day suddenly became profoundly meaningful. Linda had suffered much more than Abby had, but up to that time, I had been focused on Abby and was completely blind to Linda's feelings. I wonder how often I have left a rescue too soon without ever learning about the significance of the rescue to the owner. I wonder how much was left unsaid. I am grateful to Linda for telling me what this meant to her so that I am not oblivious to at least that part of all the drama of life that is silently unfolding all around us, and I wish there were more that I could do to ease her grief. Linda wanted to pay me for this rescue, but that would have felt so wrong and backward for me. I felt so grateful and honored that I could do this for her, and even though I know it was very meaningful and helpful to her, I still felt like I had not done enough.

About two hours after the rescue, Linda sent this picture to me with the news that Abby was home and safe. I was very relieved to hear that and know that Linda could now relax knowing she did not have to suffer another tragic loss. And it was good to see that Abby was clearly happy to be home. Since Abby was on the opposite side of the tree trunk from me for such a short time, I never got a good look at her. I could see either her butt on one side or her head peering around the other side but never the whole cat. That is why I have so few pictures of her to share here. But I will well remember her and this quick, routine rescue that was anything but routine.



Si's Second Rescue

Trust in people does not come easy for Si, and that is easy to understand when you learn about her rough start in life. Si was just a four-week-old kitten when some children put her in a sack with the rest of her siblings and beat them hard against a wall. A sheriff deputy happened to be nearby and noticed what they were doing. He stopped them just in time to save Si's life, but it was too late for all the other kittens. He took them to a local veterinarian who nursed Si back to health, and it was the veterinarian's daughter, Sarah, who took Si home with her to foster. That was six years ago, and Si is still living with Sarah because Si had a very feisty disposition that made it impossible to bond with any potential adopters. Fortunately, Sarah is patient and understanding, and Si learned to trust and love her.

I first met Si a year ago when she got stuck in a tree and Sarah called me to rescue her at her home in Ponchatoula. That first rescue was very memorable, because Si screamed so loud and threw a fit when I put her in the cat bag. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have rescued her that way, but at that time, I thought that was my best, if not only, option. I felt very lucky afterward that Si did not bite me, because she was certainly mad enough to do so.

For Si's second rescue, I needed a better rescue method. Normally, cats like that will not let a person get close to them, so the only options are to use the rescue pole, net or trap. Since I knew that Si would likely struggle if I pulled the noose of the rescue pole around her, I was very concerned that she could injure herself or wiggle out of the noose and fall. The net would be better in that regard, but getting a cat into a net is difficult and also very risky. Setting a trap for her was sounding like the best option as long as the tree was suitable for it. If Si surprised me like she did the first time and allowed me to get close to her, then I will try to lure her into a carrier. After all, she responded well to food at her first rescue, so maybe she will do so again.

Si was about 25 feet high in a sweet gum tree in a neighbor's back yard, and she had been stuck there for two nights. She was resting about eight feet away from the trunk on a large limb, and I was glad to see her there. I was concerned that she would climb up to the top of the tree to get away from me as I climbed up to her, but, since she was far away from the trunk, I might be able to prevent that if I can get between her and the trunk in time to block her escape route. That would limit her movement to just that one limb and make the rescue much easier and safer. However, if I climb up to her too fast, that will just give her more reason to fear me and possibly cause her to bolt up the tree ahead of me. I will just have to watch her carefully and gauge her level of stress.

By the time I climbed up to her, she was only four or five feet from the trunk but was not showing any sign of escaping upward. When I was just within reach of her limb, I placed my hand on the side of the limb in front of her, and I was pleased to see that she seemed comfortable with that. She leaned over to sniff my hand but then began to growl softly. She was not happy with my approach. I tried to keep one hand on her limb by the trunk to discourage her from making a run for it, but she was beginning to feel trapped and uncomfortable with my presence, and I could see her looking at the trunk and upward for an escape path. I very slowly eased my way higher in order to present a larger and more effective barrier to the trunk, but, at the same time, I was also acting very relaxed and calm. When I placed my hand on the limb far in front of her again, this time she reacted by screaming and swatting at my hand with her claws extended. She intended to strike me but missed. Still, her message came through very clearly. She backed up the limb a little, and when I inched up just a little higher, she came back toward me and struck out at my hand again. Again, she missed me, but she was looking more agitated than before, and I was afraid of her. To help her calm down, I remained very calm and relaxed, and I spent some time just being quiet and still while appearing uninterested in her. When I spoke to her, it was always in a soft and calm voice.


After giving her some time to settle down, I opened a can of food for her. This peace offering did more to mend our relationship than anything else I could have done. Now, I was no longer a threat to her, and she really wanted that food. I reached out as far as I could to hold it beneath her. She sniffed it and then took a few bites. I pulled the food closer to me, and she readily followed. I placed the food in the back of the carrier and placed the open carrier on the limb facing her. She came up to it and considered going inside to get the food, but could not summon the courage to do so. She turned around and walked back out the limb and sat with her back to me. It took me almost five more minutes before I could get her attention again, but she did eventually turn around and come to get some more of the food which I was holding as close to her as I could. I let her have another bite and then pulled the food closer to me. She kept following the food as I brought it all the way to the entrance of the carrier. I placed the food about halfway into the carrier, and, after looking around and sniffing everything, she stepped inside to get another bite. She left one back leg still on the limb outside the carrier, so I could not close the door on her yet. She backed out the carrier again, and, while she was out, I pushed the food all the way to the back of the carrier. Again, she thought about going inside for a minute and then stepped inside. This time, all four feet were inside the carrier, so I closed the door quickly. As soon as I did so, Si had a hissy fit. She growled and hissed and generally let out a bunch of nasty cat language. She felt betrayed and mad, but I was just relieved that I was able to get her so easily.

I brought her down to the ground and handed her to Sarah who was waiting with her dachshund, Weenie. While Sarah consoled Si, Weenie came to me as if to say thanks. Though Sarah's house was very close, fences prevented us from walking there, so I drove her, Si and Weenie back home. Once inside, Si was very relieved to find herself back home after narrowly escaping that mean man in the tree. Later that evening, Sarah sent this picture of Si to me to show that all is well again.