So your cat is stuck in a tree, what now? How do you get your cat down safely and quickly? It’s not a fun situation to be in but there are several pieces of advice you should know while you rescue your cat.
Myth 1: Just call 911 or any emergency service
Emergency first responders will not help your cat. Their job is to deal with human emergencies, not cat emergencies. Sometimes knowledgeable and helpful 911 operators will know the contact information of someone who can help but don’t expect them to help you.
If your cat is stuck near a power line, electrical transformer, or any utility that could be significantly damaged by your cat, do call 911. These types of situations pose a danger for not only your kitty but a falling power line could injure and hurt someone.
Myth 2: Cats can just jump down
Cats have been known to jump from great heights without dying or even getting significantly injured. Recently a cat was caught on video jumping from the 5th story to getting out of a burning building. The cat appears just fine and runs away. Most likely, your cat won’t just jump down and if they do, go to a veterinarian ASAP.
To be clear, if your cat falls out of a tree more than 8 feet, take that kitty to the vet immediately. Cats notoriously hide their injuries from their owners. As an animal with solitary hunting instincts, a cat in the wild can never afford to look injured. Domestic cats at home share this trait as well.
Myth 3: My cat will just come down when they’re hungry/thirsty
Cats will stay up in the tree as long as they feel threatened. A cat in Toledo was rescued after spending more than 2 weeks in the same tree. If you’re reading this right now, you probably don’t want to have to wait 2 weeks for your cat to come down.
Cats also have fish hook shaped claws. This can make it very difficult for your cat to climb down as the grip only works one way. In order to retain traction, cats would have to climb down backwards which most of the time, isn’t their favorite thing to do.
Myth 4: If I leave out food, my cat will come down to get it
Leaving food is just as likely to attract things that your cat is scared of as it is to motivate your kitty cat out of the situation. Most cats climb trees to escape predators. Frequently, a dog or other wild predator is the reason your cat is in that tree in the first place. Don’t give the predator a reason to stick around by feeding it a delicious cat snack. Unlike dogs, cat have a strong prey instinct. In the wild, they’re not at the top of the food chain so any aggressive animal in the way will prevent them from even thinking about coming down.
What to actually do when your cat is stuck in a tree
Tip 1: Call an arborist, animal rescue, utility company.
You can’t call 911 or any emergency services. Despite how desperate the situation may seem, emergency services like police or fire departments will not help your cat get down the tree. You can however call an arborist, animal rescue, or utility company. They have the equipment necessary and have probably dealt with this situation many times before.
In particular, we recommend calling an animal rescue service. People who regularly rescue cats will almost certainly know the best way to help your cat down from the tree. Even if they do not have the availability or capacity to help, they will often connect you with a person or service that will.
Tip 2: Use a ladder if it can be done safely
Getting a ladder and picking your cat out of the tree is pretty obvious but worth mentioning. If you feel like you can safely climb a ladder to get your cat, just do it. It may be a pain moving the boxes out of the way so you can get that ladder you use once a year but if it’s possible, this is the fastest way.
We recommend wearing long sleeves and gloves as you fetch your cat. Your cat is already in a panicked state and may turn some of that anxiety in their claws on you. Both you and your cat falling out of the tree is the worst possible outcome so be careful.
Tip 3: Make a cat elevator
A cat elevator can be as simple as a box and a long rope or twine tied to the box. You can tie the other end of the rope to a shoe or something heavy. Throw up the heavy object to get the cat elevator wrapped around a branch near where your cat decided to make basecamp. Put a treat in the box and lift it up. Your cat should be willing to jump in the box and you can slowly let them down. Use the cat elevator in locations where the height may make a ladder rescue impossible.
Tip 4: Use a harness and leash to avoid it happening again
If this isn’t the first time your cat is stuck in a tree. Use a leash and cat-specific harness when you take them outside. Yes, you can take your cat on a walk and we highly recommend it.
Tip 5: Don’t let your cat outside without supervision
Many people think cats have to be let outside whenever they want. No. If anything, your cat will live a happier, longer life indoors. Cats on average, live up to twice as long indoors as when they have free reign outside. Yes, your cat will beg to go outside and chase the birds but they won’t get in fights with other animals, they won’t get diseases like feline leukemia or rabies, and they won’t get stuck in anything but their favorite cat tree.