Rope Bag

The rope bag with which tree climbers are familiar can serve as an excellent container for a cat due to its size, semi-rigid structure, and drawstring closure top. The rope bag's most valuable feature is its ability to hold itself open thereby leaving your hands free to handle the cat. Otherwise, you would need at least three hands to handle the cat and hold the bag open. This feature is also found on soft carriers and nets on a rigid hoop making them equally suitable replacements for a rope bag. Tom Otto and Shaun Sears of Canopy Cat Rescue have been especially fond of using the net with a rigid hoop to secure their cats, and they have enjoyed great success with it.

When I first began to rescue cats in trees, I sometimes used a rope bag to secure the cat. I would attach the bag to the front side of my harness, and it would hang there holding itself open within easy reach. I would hold the cat, place him inside the bag, and then secure him by cinching the top cover. I even had one cat, Dorito (second video below), who was so anxious to be rescued that he climbed down the tree to me, jumped in my lap, and then jumped into the rope bag on his own initiative. They don’t get any easier than that.

This rope bag method worked very well until I experienced a few cats who changed their minds about being held or reacted strongly to being forced into the bag. I lost control of those cats, and they either fell to the ground or went back into the tree where they were then more difficult to rescue. I stopped using the rope bag after that, but I would have enjoyed more success if I had been more consistent in holding the cats in a way that allowed me to control them better. That is, if I held them with one hand under their chest supporting their weight while holding their upper front legs between my fingers, I would have had more, but not complete, success in getting the cats in the rope bag. Still, I was not fond of the idea of holding the cat with my hand and arm in that vulnerable position if he should become difficult or even hostile, so I dispensed with the rope bag altogether. It’s an excellent way to secure docile cats, but I chose not to rely on my faulty ability to predict which cats would react violently to being forced into the bag.

If you choose to use a rope bag, net, or soft carrier this way, be prepared for difficult cats by always holding their front legs between your fingers to keep their legs and claws out of the way, and shove them into the container head-first fast enough that they do not have time to react to it. Whether you use a rope bag, net, or soft carrier, it is important that it be attached or held in a reliable way so it is in position before you even pick up the cat, because, otherwise, you may find you need more than two hands.

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