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.

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.

Rescue Highlights of the Year




Pretty Girl

It was only 45 minutes before sunset when Liz called me to see if I could rescue her cat, Pretty Girl, out of a tree. Liz had just learned about me from a friend on Facebook and called me right away. Normally, I would make arrangements to do the rescue in the morning, because I prefer to have enough light to see the tree well. This time, however, I was thinking about doing it that night. For one thing, the last weather report I had seen predicted a light freeze for the night. Also, when I first mentioned that I could do the rescue in the morning, I could hear a slight hint of restrained disappointment in Liz's voice. Then Liz told me that her 10-year-old daughter, Madison, had been crying off and on all day with worry about her kitty. Then the final dagger in the heart of my hesitation was the news that this was her daughter's birthday, and she had some friends over for a birthday slumber party that night. Okay, that's it. I'm doing it tonight.

I probably should have consulted the latest weather report before deciding, since, as I was preparing to leave, I saw a very surprising weather radar picture on the television. A cold front had just pushed through the day before, and the last I heard, we were expected to have two days of pretty weather, so I was puzzled by the storms I was seeing on the radar. Apparently, even the weather forecasters were surprised by this, but there the storms were: nearby, substantial, and moving from west to east mostly just north of the interstate. Fortunately, my destination in Ponchatoula was east and just south of the interstate, so I proceeded undeterred with my plan to go.

During the drive over there, however, I began to question both my decision and my sanity. I was only three miles from home when the rain began. Shortly after that, I ran into the first of two traffic delays, at least one of which was caused by an accident. The driving became stressful as the rain began to fall very hard, and I could see occasional flashes of lightning far to the north. The hard rain continued for about two thirds of my one-hour trip there. How can I even think about trying to rescue a kitty in a tree in these conditions? Why am I doing this? What is wrong with me? Still, I pressed on.

When I arrived at the site, I was pleased to see that the rain had spared the area thus far. I met Liz and her husband, Artie, and they pointed to the tree that held Pretty Girl captive. It was a substantial pine tree, and Pretty Girl was about 40 feet high crying to us below. I wanted to do this rescue as quickly as possible because I did not know if the rain was going to spare us much longer. Pretty Girl had already endured a serious thunderstorm with the arrival of the cold front the day before, and I did not want her to have to suffer through any more, especially now that the temperature was in the mid-30s.

I began working to install my rope in the tree, but I ran into some difficulties and spent much more time than usual. During this process, a light rain began to fall. By the time I was ready to put on my climbing gear, the rain was falling harder, so I took advantage of the covered porch to get ready. Fortunately, there was no sign of lightning, so I began to climb the tree while Artie and Liz held flashlights to help guide me. Because of the rain and darkness, I did not even bring my camera with me, so I have no pictures of my own to share. All pictures seen here were provided by Liz.

Liz had told me on the phone that Pretty Girl is a very friendly cat. That was one of the reasons I decided to do the rescue that night, since I expected her to be cooperative and not make me chase her all over the tree. Indeed, as I approached her, Pretty Girl watched me and stayed relaxed in her perch. She never looked stressed or uncomfortable with me, and I was very happy to see that. Once I was within reach, I stuck my hand out to her, and she readily sniffed it and gave me her approval. She was not disturbed even as I advanced my rope around the branch on which she was sitting. She had several droplets of water sitting on top of her pretty coat which sparkled with the reflection of the lights below. We took a few moments to make friends, and she let me rub her cheek and pet her. She seemed happy to have someone close.

I pulled up the carrier, opened the door and held it over my head in front of her. I assumed that she would be happy to step inside a covered box where she could spread out on a flat floor and be out of the rain. She looked inside, considered it and decided it would suit her. She very slowly stepped inside, and once I saw her back legs go in, I pulled her down to me to close the door. With her tail still poking out the front, I could not close the door completely, and every time I pushed her tail inside, she pushed right back out. We must have done this six or seven times before I succeeded in closing the door.

I brought Pretty Girl down to the ground and handed the carrier to Artie. By this time, the rain had stopped, though the tree was still dripping. Artie took her inside the house and released her there. Madison was very happy to have her kitty back home again. So were her friends, as they had all been very worried about her. I went back to the porch to remove my climbing gear, and, while I packed up, Madison came out of the house and, without a word, spread out her arms to hug me. I was still wet all over, but she hugged me anyway. Right behind her were two of her friends each lined up in turn to hug me as well. They all went back inside to visit with Pretty Girl and resume their party, this time without the gloomy weight of Pretty Girl's plight in the tree hanging over them. Now they had even more reason to celebrate.

So how can I even think of trying to rescue a kitty in a tree in these conditions? Why am I doing this? There was my wordless but clear answer right there: the happiness and gratitude of a 10-year-old girl on her birthday and the relief of her worried and now grateful parents.

Oh, and by the way, Pretty Girl is pretty happy about it too.

Zeek's Second Rescue

It was only two and a half weeks ago that I rescued Zeek from a tree in his backyard, but Zeek did it again. This time, he was stuck in a tree in a neighbor's yard after someone's loose dog chased him there. Fortunately, the neighbor was sympathetic and cooperative and even tried to help Zeek get down. After their efforts failed and Zeek was unable to find a way down on his own, Andy contacted me the next day.

When I arrived, Andy led me to the site where I met the neighbors still working to find a way to help Zeek down. It is always such a relief to me when the property owners are cooperative and welcoming, and that was the case this time. I am always very grateful, because, otherwise, the rescue could not be done.

Zeek was about 25 feet high in the first fork of the trunk of a very large tree and was very cute poking his head over the edge down below. But shortly before I arrived, he moved over to a very long limb that extended outward over some bamboo. Zeek followed that limb all the way out to the end where it dipped downward into the tops of the tall bamboo where he was pretty well hidden (yellow circle in picture). Fortunately, the limb was mostly horizontal, and Zeek could easily walk back toward the trunk of the tree.

I remembered that Zeek appeared to be uncomfortable with the sight of the carrier on his first rescue, so I did not even bring it with me up into the tree this time. He also would not come to me that time until I offered him some food, so I made sure I had both food and the cat bag with me. Hopefully, that would be all I need.

I climbed up to Zeek's limb, and, to my surprise, he immediately began to walk toward me. I could not respond to him right away, however, because I needed first to secure myself to another limb. Once I did that, however, Zeek had changed his mind and walked right back out to the end of the limb. When normal coaxing failed to get him to return to me, I pulled out the food.

Zeek responded quickly to the food and came toward me. For some reason, however, he seemed cautious and would not come any closer than just barely within reach. I tried to get him to move a little closer, but he always resisted. He wanted the food, and I let him have some, but he was not as comfortable this time with my touching him. Several times, he walked away from me and came back when I lured him with the food. I had to spend several minutes there with him trying to lure him closer and let me pet him, but he eventually cooperated enough that I could pull up the scruff of his neck, lift him and pull the bag over him. He didn't fight it.

I took Zeek down and handed him to Andy and his 10-year-old son, Jackson, and they took him home and released him there. Zeek was relieved when he saw that he was back home, so he went to his food and water bowls and filled his belly. Later, he got on his favorite, soft chair and settled in for a serious nap, and Andy took this picture of him and sent it to me. That night, he settled in bed by Jackson and spent the entire night there, so all is well again.