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.

Please consider watching this slideshow of my favorite images from my first 100 rescues, and I think you will understand just how meaningful and important this is both to the people and their cats.




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

2017
https://youtu.be/32Xqx0aoLlk

2016

Pumpkin

When Kayla called me to see if I could rescue her sweet, one-year old cat, Pumpkin, from the pine tree in her back yard, it sounded like a routine rescue. I know better than to predict how long a rescue will take, but I thought this one would be fairly quick. But when I arrived at the site and saw the tree and learned more about Pumpkin's disposition, I knew I was in for a long one.

The tree was a tall pine tree surrounded by a dense, impenetrable thicket of privet, vines, thorns, bushes and small trees. To install my rope in the tree, I needed to be able to get fairly close to the trunk, but that did not appear to be possible here. To make matters worse, the more I learned about Pumpkin from Kayla, the more clear it became that Pumpkin was not going to be the least bit cooperative. Yep, I was in a for long one.

I will spare you all the details about the difficulties, poor decisions, bad luck and creativity I employed to install my rope in the tree while the rain began to fall, but I eventually succeeded. I'm just not going to say how long it took me to do it. In the end, however, I had my rope installed up very high in the tree because I was expecting Pumpkin to climb higher as I approached. I was prepared to chase her all the way to the top.

Many cats get frightened by the rope installation process, because it creates a little commotion in the tree around them. Pumpkin, however, was the most skittish I had ever seen. I was very pleased with how little commotion I created when I first shot my line into the tree well above her, but even that little bit scared her into climbing a little higher. Fortunately and surprisingly, she did not climb any higher throughout the rest of the lengthy rope installation. When I first arrived, she was out near the end of a low limb about 15 feet high. Now that I was ready to climb, she was only 20 feet high and, again, out near the end of the limb.

I was feeling a little encouraged by her position, because she was at the end of a relatively short limb and there was a good chance I could climb up to her without her climbing any higher in the tree. Indeed, she stayed in place, and when I climbed up to her, I was blocking her escape path up the tree. That was just what I wanted, so now I could see if there was any possibility of making friends with her. I walked out the limb about 10 feet toward her, and she was still another 10 feet away from me.


I could tell by the expression on her face that she did not like my being there one bit. She was trapped and felt it. I poured on my charm and gave her time to warm up to me, but I could not make any progress with her. I knew that she normally comes running when she hears a can of food being opened, so I pulled out a can and opened it hoping for a miracle. But no miracle occurred. She had no response to that at all. My last hope was to hold the food on the end of a long pole and position it closer to her, but that failed miserably. Even before I could get it anywhere near her, she reacted by going even farther out the limb. That clearly scared her, so my only choice now was to try to remotely pluck her from the end of the limb.

I hauled up my rescue pole and net and got them ready. I always practice the maneuver a bit before trying it to make sure I am ready, so after that, I began to extend the noose of the rescue pole toward her. Just like with the food coming toward her, she was terrified at the mere sight of it, and before I could get it within six feet of her, she jumped down to the next lower branch. Generally, cats are not afraid of the rescue pole near them, but they are terrified of the net approaching them. Pumpkin, however, was so afraid of the rescue pole that I could not imagine how much worse she would react to the sight of the net.

She had jumped down to a branch that was much longer, and she walked all the way out to the end of it. I went down to her branch and walked out toward her, but she was still well out of my reach now. However, she was now less than 20 feet from the ground, and she was positioned just beyond the edge of the dense thicket that surrounded the tree trunk. The simplest solution now was just to shake Pumpkin out of the tree while Kayla and another person held a blanket between them to catch her when she fell.

Kayla got a blanket and a friend to help her, and they got into position below. I gave them some instructions about how to do it and what to expect. When they were ready, I jumped up and down on the limb until Pumpkin fell. But Pumpkin used her super-cat powers to leap from the shaking limb out into the air off to the side far away from the waiting blanket. I did not think it possible to fly out as far as she did, but down she fell and landed on the ground on her feet. Without missing a step, she ran off behind the shed.

Pumpkin appeared to be just fine, but she was hiding, and it would be a while before she would feel like emerging. I'm sure she was especially eager to see me leave first. So I came down, packed up and left as quickly as I could. I told Kayla to let me know when Pumpkin came out of hiding.

About two hours later, Kayla told me that Pumpkin was home, safe and sound. She sent me these pictures of her later, and I was very pleased and happy to see that all was well in the Pumpkin household again.






Tootie

Celeste was driving the car with her daughter when they noticed that something was thrown from the window of the car in front of them. Whatever it was, it landed on the side of the road, and the daughter noticed that it was moving. Celeste stopped and turned around so they could go back to see what it was. As they slowly approached the mysterious object, they were shocked to learn that it was a small kitten.

The kitten appeared to be fine and was just as cute as it could
be. It appeared to be a long-hair Siamese but with white toes. Being the animal lovers that they are, without hesitation or a second thought, they scooped up the bewildered kitten and took it home. As unlucky as the kitten was to be born into a family that would throw it from the car to the side of the road, it was even more lucky that it was Celeste and her daughter that were there to see. Others would have passed it by, but Celeste and her daughter were caring people who often fostered cats until they could be adopted.

They didn't intend to name her Tootie. It's just that when they would need to refer to this nameless kitten, somehow it was "Tootie" that came out, and it just stuck. Tootie didn't mind though. She was in a good home with a loving family and didn't care what they called her.

Two and a half years later, that kitten is now a beautiful adult cat living permanently with Celeste and her family. While she is an inside cat, somehow this Halloween night, she slipped out the door and soon found herself 40 feet high in the next-door neighbor's pecan tree. Celeste struggled repeatedly to get Tootie to come down, but Tootie just didn't know how to do it. She wanted down, but always tried to go head-first. That was fine for the long, mostly horizontal limbs, but when the slope became too steep, Tootie was stuck.

After exhausting all her efforts to get Tootie down, Celeste called her friend, Kimberly, for advice. Kimberly eventually found me and asked if I could help. I agreed to go out there the next morning.

When I arrived, Celeste led me to the tree in the neighbor's back yard. After spending three nights in the tree, Tootie was clearly ready to come down. She cried for Celeste and made frequent attempts to come down. She was so determined to get down that she actually managed to come down the long, steep branch that always stopped her before. She was now lower than ever, but still at an impasse and still needing rescue.

As I studied the pecan tree to find a suitable place to install my rope, Tootie continued to be on the move. Each time she moved, I had to change my plan. She eventually settled back into her original place, so I installed my rope where I could get close to her there. The activity of installing my rope frightened her, and she moved farther out a limb and became very quiet. I was disappointed in this, because she would normally be very friendly with strangers and would be an easy rescue if she were not scared. Now that she is scared, however, this rescue could be very difficult since she has some very long limbs to use to get away from me.

Even though I was now ready to climb up the tree, I waited for a while to give Tootie some time to settle down. I didn't want my appearance in the tree to be too closely associated with the scary rope installation activity. As it turned out, I didn't wait long enough. When I got up into the tree, she was still scared even though she was at least talking more now. She was settled down on a long limb about 12 feet from me and would not budge. I sweet-talked her and turned on my charm, but it didn't impress her one bit.

Since she normally comes running when she hears a can of food being opened, I thought I would have a good chance at getting her to come to me if I did the same. I opened a can of food while watching her response and was sorely disappointed to see that she had no reaction to it. Now my options were getting more limited.

It would take some effort, but I could work my way out the limb toward her to get closer, but she still had another 10 feet of limb to use to get farther away from me. I didn't want to risk giving her any more reason to fear me, so I decided to just be patient and give her time to learn to trust me. So I just sat there looking indifferent and as if I were there only to enjoy the beautiful weather. She did the same.

Nothing was working, so I decided to place the food at the end of a long pole to reach it out to her. Some cats will respond to the food as long as they don't have to get close to me to enjoy it. So I reached out with the pole and placed the food a couple of feet from her. She thought about it a minute and then seemed to be responding to it. She got up and moved closer to it very slowly. Once she reached it, she sniffed it and then settled back down without taking a single bite.

I gave her plenty of time to think about it and reconsider, but she did not show any more interest in the food. As I pulled the food away from her, however, she got up and began to move closer to me. I placed the food about halfway between us, and she continued to come toward it. Once she reached the food, however, she stopped and had no interest in it. Too slowly, I began to realize what she was thinking. She was not interested in the food right now, but the gesture of offering it to her was enough to convince her that I was friendly. She was trying to come to me, but I kept putting the food in front of her and blocking her path. So, I removed the food, and Tootie walked right up to me.

I reached out my hand to her, and she was very interested in sniffing it. After a short sniff, she let me touch her, and then she pressed her face into my hand. I petted her, and it looked like, at last, we were friends. Then she turned around and walked away a few feet. I was beginning to worry that she had changed her mind, so I reached out my hand to her again. Fortunately, she seemed very interested in my hand and came back to me to sniff it again. I petted her some more and relaxed a little thinking I practically had this rescue in the bag.

But I didn't have her in the bag. I didn't even have my cat bag on my arm yet. I pulled out the cat bag and prepared it on my arm, but while I did so, Tootie walked down the limb past me and down to another limb just below me. It took several more minutes before I could get her to come back to within my reach. Again, it was her peculiar interest in my hand that got her attention and interest, and when she came back to me, I was ready. She seemed to want to keep on walking past me again back to where she started, but I grabbed her by the scruff and pulled the bag over her. She fussed a little but did not struggle.

I brought Tootie down and handed her to Celeste who was waiting anxiously below. She took Tootie inside and released her there. Celeste had been agonizing over Tootie's plight for the past three nights and was very relieved to see that it was now over. After I packed up my gear, I went inside to check on them and was very gratified to see Celeste happily holding Tootie in her arms again. A few minutes later, I noticed that Tootie was on top of a table drinking water out of a fish bowl. The fish that were originally in the bowl are long gone, but this was Tootie's favorite place to drink, so they kept it there for her.


The video of the rescue was unusable because the helmet camera was bumped out of position without my knowledge. I was able to salvage only a few images from the video.