Rescue Procedure

When I arrive, I would like to meet you and then have you lead me to the site.  I will ask you to talk to your cat in a calm manner and let him see us together.  After I evaluate the site and determine how I will rescue the cat, I will ask you to stay away from the area and be responsible for keeping any children and dogs away as well.  I want to keep the noise and activity level to a minimum so that the cat will be as calm as possible.  Fast activity, such as running children, and loud noises, such as yelling back and forth, can especially make a cat nervous.

The first rescue option to consider is the ramp.  If the cat is low enough or positioned where a ramp would be feasible, this is usually the best option.  Most of the time, however, it really is not feasible and climbing the tree is the only option.

To climb the tree, I will first determine the best place to set my rope.  To get my rope in the tree, I will first use a very large slingshot to launch a small, soft, weighted bag that is attached to a long string.  Once that is in place, I will use that string to pull up my larger climbing rope.  I will then put on the gear I need to attach myself to the rope and begin climbing.  I will climb slowly and as quietly as possible so as not to make the cat nervous.  I will not look directly at the cat so that he won’t regard me as a predator, and I will give him some calm sweet talk along the way to let him know I am harmless.  His reaction to me will determine my options.

Usually, the first thing I will do is open a can of smelly cat food and watch the cat’s response.  If I can lure him to me with the food, then the best rescue options are available to me.  After I give him a taste of the food, I will put the food in the far back of a cat carrier and hold it next to him so that he can walk inside.  If he walks in, all I need to do is close the door and come on down.  If he is afraid of the carrier, then I can pull the food back out and set it on the tree where he can eat it within my reach.  I will let him eat some and get comfortable, and then I will scruff him and put him in the cat bag.  The cat bag is just a laundry bag with a glove sewn into the bottom.  I simply insert my hand in the glove with the bag over my arm, scruff the cat and then invert the bag over the cat and tie it closed.

Image of rescue net
If the cat is so cautious that I am unable to get within arm’s reach, I can usually use a long-handle net or rescue-pole.  The net has a drawstring around it that allows me to cinch it closed once the cat is in the net.  I can also attach extension poles to the handle to reach even farther.  The rescue-pole has a noose that I can tighten around the cat's chest just behind his front legs.  The noose locks in place so that I can securely lift the cat and transfer him quickly to a net.  Once I place him inside the net, I release the noose and withdraw the pole.
Image of catch-pole

If those fail, then the next option is to tie a cat trap on a branch that the cat can reach and leave the area.  I will check back on the trap frequently or watch from a distance with binoculars and climb back up the tree when he is caught to retrieve him.  If all those options fail, then we may need to get creative.  Sometimes, the only option left is to saw off the branch the cat is on and pull it toward me or lower him down slowly by rope.

Sometimes the cat is so afraid of me that he will voluntarily jump out of the tree.  This is especially common with feral cats.  Incredibly, cats are commonly able to survive high falls with no injury.  There are no guarantees, of course, but cats often fall from heights around 100 feet and immediately run off after hitting the ground.  If your cat jumps and runs off, he will probably hide for a while and come back out when he feels safe.  Watch him for any signs of injury and be prepared to take him to the vet, but often the cat will show no hint that he has just fallen.