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.



Stormy is an inside cat, but lately this two-year-old, tuxedo kitty has been hearing the call of the wild and has been darting out the door when he sees a chance. After his most recent escape, he climbed up a tree in his backyard in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and got stuck there. He was 25 feet high and beyond Tiffany's reach and abilities. He did this once before, and, after one night in the tree, he either came down or fell down and appeared at the door ready to come back inside. Tiffany was hoping he would do that again, but this time, he kept staying in the tree, and Tiffany was getting more and more worried.

Stormy has one feline sibling, an orange tabby named Sunny, and he also has two canine siblings, but on the same day Stormy got stuck in the tree, one of his canine siblings had to be put to sleep due to cancer. Tiffany was stressed enough about the loss of her beloved dog, but now she had the additional worry about losing her Stormy as well. She contacted Bob Reese, Mississippi's preeminent cat rescuer, and asked for his help, and Bob referred her to me. By this time, Stormy had been in the tree for four nights.

Fortunately, except for one small twist in the plot, Stormy's rescue was straightforward and easy. He was friendly in the tree and let me make friends with him right away. Since he seemed relaxed and the tree allowed for an easy descent, I thought he might like to go down to the ground in my lap. He stepped on my lap and happily settled there, but when I began the slightest movement downward, he got very nervous and wanted to get back in the tree. I tried to calm him down and reassure him, but he was too uncomfortable and jumped back up onto the branch. He was barely able to reach it, and I grabbed him to help him pull himself back up on the branch.

I pulled the carrier up to see if he would walk inside it. He stared at it and sniffed it but did not see any reason to go inside. I opened a can of food for him, and he was very interested in that. He was very hungry and quickly sank his teeth into the food. I let him have a bite and then held the food in front of the carrier. He ate another bite, and then I placed the food inside the carrier. He had to give the carrier the sniff test again, but then he stepped inside for the food. However, he left his back legs on the tree, so I slowly pulled the carrier away from him to force him to follow. Then he stepped his back legs inside, and I closed the door after tucking his tail inside.

I brought him down and handed him to Tiffany. She took him inside and released him there and let him finish eating the food I had given him. After he finished that food, he ate a bowl of his own food. By the time he went to bed that night, he ate four more times and drank two bowls of water. I guess he figured he needed to make up for the meals he missed while he was in the tree. After a good night's sleep, he is feeling much better now, and Tiffany is very relieved as well.

Unknown Torby

When Andrea let her dogs out in the backyard of their Hattiesburg, Mississippi home, one of them spotted a cat intruder in the yard and immediately began to chase it. The cat ran up a large oak tree near the fence. Andrea has two cats of her own, and her two dogs are cat-friendly, so she was concerned about this cat she had never seen before and hoped it would come down on its own when she brought the dogs back inside. Andrea kept checking on the cat, but it was always still on the same limb about 20 feet high. When she found the cat was still there the following morning, she already knew who to contact. When she was a student at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Bob Reese was one of her faculty advisers, and she knew he rescues cats in trees. Since Hattiesburg is closer to me, Bob asked me if I would be interested in handling it, and I agreed to do it.

This unknown kitty in Andrea's tree had remained mostly quiet, so I was concerned that this was a feral cat. Generally, tame cats will talk to people below and cry for help, but feral cats won't because they don't want to call attention to themselves. When I arrived, I talked to the kitty from the ground, and she watched my every move, but she never said a word. At one point, I thought I saw a grimace of fear on her face, so I was preparing myself for a feral cat. As it turned out, however, I could not have been more wrong. When I began to climb up to her, she started talking to me and rubbing her head on the tree and walking around in place with excitement now that she saw I was coming. In a matter of seconds, this "feral" kitty transformed into a super sweetie, and I was very relieved and happy to see that.

She readily greeted me and let me pet her. She felt very skinny to me, so I suspect she has been on her own for a while. At first, she appeared to be a brown tabby, but she has some tortie markings as well with a touch of orange on her back, so I am calling her a torby. After a short visit with her in the tree, I gave her a chance to go inside the carrier, but she didn't want to do that. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get her in the carrier, I put it away and put her in a bag instead and brought her down.

I turned the kitty over to Andrea who had already planned to care for the cat and find its owner. Andrea is a very responsible and caring person, so I know I am leaving the kitty in good hands. We put her in Andrea's carrier and fed her. I scanned her for a microchip but did not find one. I left while Andrea went to work to find the owner.

It was less than an hour after I left that I got a message and this picture from Andrea showing the kitty resting comfortably in her lap. The kitty was settling in as if this were her home. She liked to sit on Andrea's shoulder like a parrot as she walked around the house, and in spite of the variety of cat toys available to her, she preferred playing with toilet paper rolls and the dog's tails. In a house with two cats and two dogs already, Andrea did not want to add another cat to the mix, but the kitty certainly appeared to want this to be her new home. She is already comfortable with the dogs and cats, though one of the resident cats may need some more time to adjust to her. She slept by Andrea's head all night that night, and, by the next day, I think Andrea has decided to keep this sweet little treasure if her owner is not found. Time will tell. She already has an appointment for the vet.

As it turned out, it may be that getting chased by a dog and stuck in a tree is the luckiest thing ever to happen to this kitty.