How to Get Cat Out of Tree? 5 Ways to Rescue a Stuck Cat

Orange Tabby Cat Perched on a High Branch on a Largely Leafless Tree
Photo by Ainur Khakimov on Unsplash
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Cats are curious creatures and like to explore their surroundings. Throw in their predatory instinct to get a bird’s eye view, and you can picture them climbing trees to gain intelligence. The trouble is, they get stuck there and do not know their way back. So, you have to figure out how to get a cat out of the tree.

Not only are you worried the tiny individual might fall but also concerned it may feel hungry and thirsty, hanging high up the tree. It is stressful to sort it out, and the pressure mounts with every passing minute. And if anybody tells you it’s nothing, they are wrong. Kitties cannot find their way down the tree as easily as they do when climbing up. So, yes, you do need to help them out.

Read along to let us show you just how to do that.

How to Get a Cat Out of the Tree?

Cats fancy higher spots and rely on them for safety when pursued by hostile animals such as aggressive dogs. Whether or not they climb up to avoid a dangerous situation, they land one when they realize they have reached too high, and getting back to the ground will be risky.

One of the ways you can help them is to remove any source of distress, such as an excitable dog or other predators, and offer them some space and time to come down on their own.

A Scared Orange-White Kitten Looking Down From a Branch of a Tree
Photo by Ali Khalil

If that does not work or is not an option, try wooing them down. You can do so by placing their favorite food below the tree, getting them excited and following a laser light, or simply using encouraging words to get them to come back. You could facilitate the process by affixing a ladder or a sturdy branch to lead them back to the ground.

If the point your cat is stuck on is not too high, you could try climbing a tree and grabbing it to bring it back to safety. When all else fails, you can try calling your local pet rescue service or a tree care company to get your cat safely out of the tree.

Why Do Cats Get Stuck in the Trees in the First Place?

There could be many explanations for why cats reach so high up the trees and why it is so hard for them to find their way back when they do. Those who have had cats understand that cats love to climb. It is believed to be linked to their wild origins, where they had to seek an elevated position to keep an eye out for prey and stay safe from predators.

So, they could be lured to the tree tops by their intrinsic fascination with heights, as a protection mechanism when being chased, or pure adrenaline rush. Now, their fish-hook claws make the climbing process super easy.

But here is the catch, the claws that help them climb up are not very useful when climbing down. If they try to do so headfirst, they will fall. So they have to go back down to reach the ground.

Understandably the cat gets scared of having to back down from such height without knowing where it is going—remember, cats have to have their backs down, so they cannot see what’s down there. Also, most likely, it thought of going back once its reserve of excitement evaporated, and then reality hit home. If that is the case, here are a few tips that might help.

Ways to Rescue a Cat Stuck in the Tree

So, we know that cat ownership automatically translates into having to figure out how to get a cat out of the tree at some point.

First off, to ensure the safe rescue of a cat is to keep your calm. You do not want to aggravate the matter by causing the kitty any more stress than it already feels. Next, rely on your better judgment to choose from the methods discussed below. 

1. Let It Climb Down at Its Leisure

This may not seem like the best strategy to employ, but in many cases, it is. All you need to do is to remove all the stressors. This includes chaining or removing an excited dog from the scene and ensuring predators like foxes are not around. Crying or distressed kids that may shout at it are equally upsetting.

Then, just back off and monitor from a safe distance. Our cat in distress may be smarter than you imagined and be fully capable of rescuing itself without any external help. It will need some patience on your part, as it may sometimes take even a day or two.

Again, think about what is best for the cat. If it is an injured, sick, tiny, or indoor cat or the weather seems unforgiving, do not go for this option.

2. Entice It to Climb Down

Use Words of Encouragement

Sometimes, all the cat needs is a little encouragement to overcome its fears. Help it do so by calling out its name and using motivational statements such as “come down” and “good job.” Watch this cute video of a team of rescuers assisting the cat in its rescue simply by cheering it.

Offer Food

When words fail to do the magic, back them up with something a bit more exciting such as your cat’s favorite food. If it isn’t yours and you do not know what might interest it, go for the fail-proof tuna. Not only does it grab the feline’s attention with a strong smell, but their love for the food might be the encouragement it needs.

Use a Laser Light

If there is one thing the cats love to chase after a mouse, it is a bright dot of laser light. Tap into their weakness by pointing the laser light near them where they can see it. Once it grabs their attention, use it to prompt their descent by slowly moving it downwards.

3. Help It Down

Create Diagonal Pathways

Sometimes the cats need more than a little encouragement to get out of a tree. It could mean less vertical, more diagonal pathways for the cat to climb down. You can create one by leaning and securing a sturdy ladder to the tree.

You could choose from the options given in method number 2 to convince the cat to use the newly created, less dangerous pathway. If you do not have a ladder handy, try borrowing a branch or log wide enough to help your little friend.

Use a Pet Carrier

You could also bring a pet carrier at level with the cat and let it get inside to bring it to the ground. The main trick is to use a secure route to bring it to level with the animal. Simply tie one end of the rope to a carrier, preferably one the cat is familiar with, and the other to some weight.

Throw the weighted end over a strong, higher branch and pull it to elevate the bag/bow. Throw in some food to encourage the cat to get inside. Once securely inside the bag, slowly release the rope to bring it down.

Climb Up for Rescuing It Yourself

All of the above methods are patience-intensive and heavily rely on the feline’s ability to play its savior. In some cases, the cat could be too scared or weak to do so. Or the weather might seem too dangerous to let the kitty take its time.

In such a scenario, if it isn’t stuck too high, you could use a ladder to proceed with the rescue yourself.

Man Standing on a Ladder, Rescues an Orange Tabby Cat from a Massive, Leafy Tree

Remember to use a strong ladder for the mission, ensure it is secured and does not risk a slip, and borrow the help of another individual to hold it while you climb it. Since the cat is likely to be scared already, put on a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of gloves to grab it without enduring a scratch. Best to grab it from the scruff of its neck for easy handling.

  • Ask for Professional Assistance

If all else fails, seek professional help to rescue the cat. Somehow, firefighting is the first service that pops into people’s imaginations when thinking of animal rescue. But contrary to popular belief, they will not address the problem.

Instead, browse the animal/cat rescue in your state and give them a call. If such a service is not available in your vicinity, look for tree care experts, also known as arborists. Ask if they are willing to bring the cat to safety. Understand that both the services may cost you some money, better to enquire about it beforehand.

How to Avoid Getting Your Cat Stuck in a Tree?

Would it not be better if you did not have to go through any of the hassles? As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. You could employ a few hacks to avoid the situation altogether and keep the cat both safe and entertained.  

Install Secure Cat Tree Indoor

Prevent the trouble by keeping the cat entertained by installing a cat tree indoors. Not only would it keep the cat entertained, but it will also effectively exhaust its energy reserves. It is like having a baby, you provide enough stimulation and physical activity indoors to keep it coming in the way of harm outdoors. Here is what an ideal outdoor cat tree should look like.

Restrict Unsupervised Outdoor Activities

While some breeds have a higher propensity for outdoor activities than others, you can always keep them safe by offering supervised outings. If yours is a rather energetic breed and is likely to take the first opportunity to shoot out of sight, put it on a leash. But if it is not used to leashes, you will have to leash-train your cat before walking it on a leash.  

Remember to provide ample opportunities for playing when you do so, or you may risk negative behavior or signs of depression.

Get it Spayed/Neutered

Unaltered cats have far higher energy reserves than spayed or neutered ones. Female cats tend to move out more often and find a partner when they are in heat. So, unless you are a breeder or wish to care for (or want your cat to be held responsible for) a litter, getting your cat spayed/neutered is your best option. Besides saving you a lot of unwanted trouble, it could also mean the cat is less likely to follow in its wild ancestor’s paws.

Window Perch

If your cat loves to gaze at other individuals, animals, and objects, getting them a window perch would offer enough entertainment indoors.

This way, you bring the view inside, potentially curtailing the need to dart outside.

Final Thoughts: How to Get a Cat Out of the tree?

You can get a cat out of the tree by clearing the coast of potential stressors and letting it take its time, motivating it to come down, or offering food. Other ways include creating secure pathways, climbing a ladder to secure it by hand / in a pet carrier, or calling an animal rescue service.

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