FAQ


First, clear the area under the tree of any hard objects that can be moved, so the cat will land on clear, soft ground if he falls. If a dog or another cat chased it up the tree, then remove them from the area so that the cat feels safe to come down. Calm the environment as much as possible by stopping all activity, noise and distractions. If possible, give the cat some time to learn how to come down on its own. Some do better with you coaxing them down, while others do better by leaving them alone for a while. If it's clear to you that your cat is stuck and you want to get it down on your own, then see my Do It Yourself page or search the internet for some suggestions. Usually, however, the best thing to do is find a cat rescuer.

There is a directory of cat rescuers all over the world at catinatreerescue.com, so start there. If there are no rescuers in your area, then call the next nearest ones because you may be surprised to learn how far some rescuers will go. At least, they may be able to refer you to someone they know closer to you. Failing that, call your local cat welfare organizations, shelters and animal control office to see if they know someone. If they can't help you, call some tree care services in your area. Many do not want to be bothered with cat rescues, but they may at least be able to suggest someone to you.

As you talk to people to ask for help, you are almost guaranteed to hear someone say that the cat will come down on its own when it is ready. They especially love to say that they have never seen a cat skeleton in a tree. Ignore them. Despite how confident and authoritative they may sound, they have never studied the matter and don't know anything it. Heeding their advice only prolongs the suffering -- both yours and the cat's.

It often happens that cats fall out of the tree, so if you leave the cat unattended for a while, especially overnight, then you need to consider where the cat will go after it falls. If the cat is in familiar territory, then he will likely go straight home. If the cat is not familiar with the territory, however, then you need to do whatever you can to ensure that he does not wander off and get lost. Put anything with his scent on it – his bed, blanket, litter-box, toys -- outside where he can find it and know that this is his territory. Hopefully, he will linger there until you return. You should also consider setting one or more traps for him on the ground to make sure he does not wander off. If you do that, you must make sure the cat will be safe from any predators or other dangers until you return.


I will rescue the cat whether anyone knows it or not.  Take note if the cat responds to you when you approach it and talk to it.  If it cries, it is likely tame; if it stays quiet, it could be feral.  Also, if possible, try to see if it has a collar or if one ear is tipped or notched.  If you can take a picture of the cat, please do so.

The sooner we find the owner, the better.  First, check your neighborhood nextdoor.com website and local Lost and Found Pets Facebook page for any posts for a missing cat matching the cat’s description.  If none is found, ask your neighbors if they recognize the cat.  Failing that, post a Found Cat notice on your neighborhood nextdoor.com website and your local Lost and Found Pets Facebook page.  Old-fashion paper flyers are still often the most effective way to find the owner, so consider doing that as well.

If the owner has not been located by the time I rescue the cat, I will scan it for a microchip.  If a microchip is found, then I will immediately attempt to contact the owner.  If no microchip is found, then we need someone to take responsibility for the cat until the owner is found.  The cat needs to be released in a safe, confined area so we can observe it, reassure it, feed it and assess the need for urgent veterinary care.  If the cat is ear-tipped, then it may be best to just release it, since we already know that it has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated and is less likely to be owned by anyone, though that is not a certainty.  Otherwise, a responsible person will need to take care of the cat until the owner is found.  If no owner is found, the cat can be re-homed.  If no one is able to care for the cat, I will be forced to take it to the local shelter.  There, the cat will be spayed or neutered, if needed, and vaccinated.  After a short recovery period, it will likely be returned to the same area where it was originally found and released.


If the cat is where he can move freely and return on his own, such as under a house or in the attic, then you will need to learn to be patient. Whether the cat is hiding in fear or confidently enjoying exploring this new area, usually the best thing you can do for most cats is to just be calm, relaxed and pretend to be interested in something else while remaining close. You should talk to him and have his favorite food handy where he can see it and smell it, but otherwise, do not look at him or plead with him to come to you. I assume you have already tried that and found it unsuccessful.  If there is a certain toy that he finds irresistible, then you might use that to draw him out.  Especially if he is hiding in fear, he needs to know that it is safe to come out, and you give him that sense of safety by staying calm yourself and minimizing the noise, activity and distractions.  You are the best, and maybe only, person who can do this. However, if the cat is afraid of you or does not trust you, then this will not work.

If the cat still does not emerge, you may need to set a trap for him and leave the area. The Animal Control office has traps that they will let you use, or you may be able to borrow one from a friend or local TNR organization.

If the cat is on a roof or structure where he cannot find a way down, then you need to make it easy for him. Give him a ramp to walk down or another object to which he can jump. For example, you may be able to park your car at the edge of the roof and place a soft mat or piece of carpet on top so the cat can jump part of the way down.


He doesn’t know how. He is trying to go down head-first, and he cannot hold on that way. His claws curve to the back, and the only way he can hang on is to point them downward by going down butt-first. He doesn’t think to do that, so he simply stays where he is. Sometimes, a cat may know how, but just be too afraid to do it. It is scary.


I suppose it is possible that there may be some rare cats that are so food-motivated that they will overcome their fear and try to climb down as best they can, but I have never seen that work. The reason it doesn’t work is because it does not solve the problem. The cat is already motivated to go down, but it just doesn’t know how to do so without falling. Also, leaving the food there just attracts insects and other cats or predators that may have chased the cat in the tree in the first place.


Ignore them.  Despite how confident and authoritative they may sound, they have never studied the matter and don't know anything it.  Heeding their advice only prolongs the suffering -- both yours and the cat's.  While it is certainly true that some cats can come down on their own, it is equally true that some cats can't.


I have no minimum time that I require you to wait before calling.  I trust you to know when your cat is stuck, so you can call me as soon as that is clear to you.  If you have the luxury of time, it may be best to wait a few hours to see if the cat can figure out how to come down on his own, since learning that skill will serve him well and avoid the need to ever need a rescue in the future.  However, sometimes there is no time for that or the stress it causes you is unbearable, so call me as soon as possible.  The rescue is as much for you as it is the cat.


I climb the tree using a rope and professional tree-climbing gear and methods that do no harm to the tree. I never use spikes. I also never use a ladder because they are dangerous and never tall enough.


The most dangerous part of the rescue is the drive over there and back. Climbing a tree using professional tree-climbing gear and techniques is much safer. I am secured to the tree at all times by at least one rope, and often I am tied in with two or more ropes.


Any cat that is aggressive will also not allow me to get close to it. If I can’t make friends with it after a certain amount of time, then I can rescue it using methods that maintain a safe distance between us, such as a net or catch-pole. I can also set a trap for it in the tree and leave the area until he is trapped in it. Friendly cats are not a risk for clawing or biting unless I make a mistake and spook them. So far, I have never been bit or scratched.


Nothing. It’s totally free.


I will happily travel an hour from Baton Rouge, but I have also travelled much longer than that. I have not set any rigid limits to the driving time, distance or parishes I will go. It may also depend on other rescues I may have to do that are closer or more urgent at the time. The best way to find out is to call me.


While I can’t rule out an attack by a predatory bird, generally, this is not something you need to worry about. Kittens are much more vulnerable due to their size, but they are probably more vulnerable on the ground than in the tree. Adult cats are generally too large and heavy for most predatory birds. However, there have been documented instances of attacks on healthy adult cats by eagles, Great Horned owls and even some aggressive vultures.


The longer the cat is in a tree, the more likely he is to fall out.  As they get weaker and more sleep-deprived, they begin losing their footing or simply fall asleep and roll off the limb.  They usually land on the ground with no injury and go home to the surprise of the owner.  However, if the cat is perched in a secure place, such as the union of very large branches or a large hollowed out cavity, they are less likely to fall and could die there.

Cats can usually survive several days in a tree, but much depends on the cat's health and the environment.  I have known cases where the cat survived for two full weeks, but it takes frequent rain to help them survive that long.  While the rain may feel miserable to them, it prolongs their life, since they can lick the water off their fur.


I know I am stating the obvious, but birds are completely different animals. I am perfectly willing in principle to try to rescue your bird, but I think your best chance of recovering your bird is first to call The Birdman of Northwest Bird Rescue. He is in the Washington and Oregon area, but he understands all kinds of birds and has helped countless people retrieve their escaped bird on their own over the phone.  His phone numbers are 360-BIRDMAN and 503-BIRDMAN (360-247-3626 and 503-247-3626). Yes, those are the same number in two different area codes, Washington and Oregon.

If that fails, and you still want me to try, and you realize that I am not educated about birds, and that my climbing activity may scare him off, I am willing to give it a try under your direction.  Just be aware that despite how careful I may be, there is still a risk that I will scare your bird away.  I will feel terrible if that happens, but if I am your last hope, I will not refuse you.  So, be sure you have tried everything else and that you are willing to take that risk.