If a cat gets stuck in a tree their health and even life could be in danger. Getting them out of the tree before they dehydrate and fall out is vital.
Be aware that the fire service is very unlikely to come out these days for a cat stuck up a tree.
Below are some tips that you should consider using before calling emergency services (such as the RSPCA).
How to get a cat out of a tree
Some of the most effective ways of getting your cat out of a tree are..
1. Using a ladder
This is perhaps the first piece of advice that we can give you, and while it might seem somewhat unsafe, it’s actually quite effective.
However, if the ladder seems unstable, do not attempt to rescue the cat.
Even with a ladder that’s in perfect shape, if you are alone, you’re putting yourself in danger.
The more, the merrier, they say, and that’s exactly the case when it comes to rescuing a cat out of a tree with a ladder.
If there are two other people to assist you, you, the owner, can go first and take the cat in your arms, then hand it to a person located below you, which could then hand it to another. It seems complicated, but it works.
Also, if you have someone to sit at the bottom of the ladder to help you at all times (meaning just one person besides yourself), you can try to get your cat in their carrier.
2. Work out why your cat is reluctant
If your cat is well-known for climbing on and off of trees without any issues and she’s suddenly stuck in one, something’s definitely wrong in that environment.
For example, there could be other pets or wild animals in the area, a dog, or even people using lawnmowers, all of which can make a cat too scared to descend by herself.
Try to remove the factor that’s causing your cat’s distress and wait for an hour to see what happens. At one point, if everything is quiet, the problem might be solved on its own.
Make sure your cat is calm. If the quiet doesn’t seem to have any results, try using cat-specific music or calming scents, like a diffuser (do not use candles near trees).
Then you can attempt to rescue her with a ladder or one of the following tips.
3. Coax her with her favourite food
Not all cats respond to this, but those that have spent a bit of time in a tree are probably going to be hungry at one point.
While you might tend to think that placing the food on a lower branch or as up in the tree as possible is the best way of going about things, it’s actually not.
You should place the food on the lowest possible branch or even on the ground so that there’s a possibility for your cat to come down.
Don’t go into the house once you’ve done this, as your cat might descend, eat, and then climb right back up if she’s still feeling scared.
Try to get her into a carrier as soon as she gets close to you.
4. Soft landing
If you want to mechanically remove the cat from the tree, such as by using a long stick, you have to make sure that she falls on her feet, but on something comfortable.
Get a mattress, use blankets, or add as many cushions around the tree as possible so that in the event of a fall, she doesn’t get hurt.
Most cats are also comforted by your smell, especially if you’re particularly close to your feline companion.
So using blankets and cushions from your house can reassure her that it’s safe to jump down.
5. Light her way down
Cats don’t need light during the night as they have excellent eyesight, particularly in the dark.
But if your cat is bored, especially after spending an hour alone in a tree (not sleeping, of course), you might be able to convince her to descend by using a laser pointer.
Laser pointers make some cats go crazy, so one that’s stuck in a tree might be tempted to have a little fun and hunt that red or orange dot even if she’s feeling reluctant about getting down.
When should you call for help?
Indoor cats don’t do well when they’re stuck in trees for the simple reason that they do not have the same climbing experience as their outdoor counterparts.
So if your indoor cat is stuck, you should call for help. The same goes for kittens, injured animals, and declawed pets (since they have no way of climbing down without any assistance).
The weather is another good reason to get help, especially if you know that there are electrical storms, high winds, or rain coming your way.
Finally, even if the cat doesn’t belong to you but you’ve noticed her sitting in the tree for the past 24 hours, you should call a rescuer in your area.
Cats can easily become dehydrated, especially if they sit in the sun all day and have no access to water or wet food.
Who are you supposed to call?
In the past, the fire department was the one you should have called when a cat got stuck in a tree, nowadays, they’re quite unlikely to come to the rescue.
Most areas have professional cat rescuers, however, and you should get informed about what those are where you live.
In the United Kingdom, for example, you can call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
They will be able to send an officer to give you assistance, but given that they do have to handle a lot of emergencies, do keep in mind that this should be your last resort.
Keeping your cat out of trees in the future
While the best solution for this would be for you to keep your cat indoors only, it can be quite difficult for a pet to get used to such a new living situation if they’re accustomed to exploring the outdoors.
If you do want to keep your cat in the house, you should allow her to at least look outside easily, such as by getting a cat perch or a large cat tree (placed near a window).
With a bit of practice you can even take your cat out for walks using a harness and leash.