It is unusual for me to bring a cat down unsecured on my lap, but, when the conditions are right, it’s the simplest, most natural, and most pleasant way to bring a cat down. Whenever I climb up to a very friendly cat who clearly wants to step on my lap, I go through a mental checklist of requirements that must be met before I will bring him down on my lap. If all the requirements below are met, then I will proceed with a lap rescue. If any one of these requirements is not met, then I will use the lap bag instead to secure the cat.

  • Cat does not need to be secured for any special reason
  • Cat is calm and relaxed
  • We are less than 25 feet high
  • The descent path is straight and clear of obstacles
  • The cat is in his own familiar territory
  • The ground is clear of any threats to the cat

Elaboration on these requirements is in order. If the cat needs to be secured because he is injured or is being transported to a veterinarian immediately after the rescue, then it is best to secure him in the tree than on the ground. The cat needs to be calm and comfortable on my lap, because an active cat will be harder to control and prevent from jumping. If the cat does jump too soon, then I don’t want to be very high. I arbitrarily set a maximum height of 25 feet to limit the possibility of injury, but I am also concerned about any hard objects that may be on the ground below us. If the cat jumps and lands on a flower pot, for example, he could sustain a serious injury. The descent all the way to the ground needs to be straight and clear so that I can maintain a lap the entire way and not need extra hands to guide us around obstacles or push any foliage out of our way. If the cat is not familiar and comfortable with the territory where he will be set free, then he may get frightened and run away to hide, so it is imperative that he knows where he is and that there is nothing on the ground that may harm or frighten him, such as a threatening dog or cat, noisy garbage truck, road construction, rambunctious children, etc.

Normally, when descending, I prefer to have one hand acting as the brake hand on the rope below me, but when a cat is on my lap, then I need to use that hand to hold the cat close to me and prevent him from moving or jumping. I take more care in making the descent smooth and slow so that I do not startle or frighten the cat. I can remember only two cases in which the cat became nervous once we began descending and jumped back onto the limb, and in both cases, the cats were still willing to step back on my lap again. Normally, however, cats are quite comfortable and happy to descend even if there are a few jerky movements along the way.

Once you get close to the ground, almost all cats want to jump down before you get there. Once my lap is three feet or less from the ground, I will let them jump, but some want to jump from greater heights. I hold them to prevent them from jumping too early, and, even though I have had some escape my grasp sooner than I would like, I have never had one jump from an unreasonable height. I had one very sweet cat that did not leave my lap even after reaching the ground. Instead, he stayed on my lap wanting some loving for so long that I eventually had to force him off my lap.

As long as all the requirements are met, this is a safe and enjoyable way to bring a cat down. The only risk lies in the cat jumping down to the ground too soon. If the cat jumps off your lap back onto a limb, he will probably do it a second time, so it’s best to secure him in the lap bag at that point.

Rescue Methods:  Lap Bag   >>>