Cats are great climbers, so, going up a tall tree is easy breezy – big thanks to their extended claws, which are designed to pull them forward and upward.
However, they are not as adroit in going down a tree as climbing it. So, at some point, cat owners and passersby may have to ask, “How to get a cat out of a tree?”
For some, it may sound strange that a cat could get stuck in trees or tall structures. But as mentioned earlier, this has something to do with the structural aspects of a cat’s claws. Some may even look at the poor cat stuck in the tree and ask, “How did he get there in the first place?”
Just like us humans, and other animals, cats have instincts that can be useful especially when they are in immediate danger.
Outdoor cats or even indoor cats that go out momentarily for a walk can instantly jolt and climb a tree as fast and high as possible to get away from a large dog chasing them.
Sadly, once the dust has settled, or the coast is clear from danger, that’s when they realize that they are once again facing another problem – and that’s how to climb down from the tall tree.
The good news is that we have seven tried-and-tested methods that can help you get a poor kitty stuck in a tree.
Also Read: Best Foods For Indoor Cats 2024
Why Do Cats Get Stuck in Trees?
Cats are curious creatures, they love to chase birds, they have saving instincts, and they are natural climbers with extended claws that are designed to pull them up.
One, or all of these can be the reasons why you can see a cat meowing on top of a tall tree figuring out how to go down, or waiting for someone to rescue him.
While cats can whiz through trees in less than two seconds, they would probably have much more difficulty going down.
Cats gain traction using their sharp claws and use powerful legs muscle to propel forward. The gravity makes repositioning much more difficult.
Sometimes cats can reverse their positions but they normally only try for safety if they are still climbing the tree trunk rather than the branch.
Also, unlike squirrels, cats can’t go down a tree headfirst. They have to step backward, as we, humans would climb down a ladder. Apparently, this can be challenging, and doing it may also put the cats at risk for falls.
How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree? 7 Tips in Getting Them Down
1. Check the Surroundings
Initially, you may be tempted to grab a tall ladder and climb the tree by yourself. However, this is not really advisable for several reasons.
First, the ladder may not be that stable, and it also requires another person to keep it from moving while you are on your way up.
Second, just imagine that you will be carrying an anxious cat with your hands as you descend the stairs. Third, there's a chance that the cat may displace his anger, fear, or heightened emotion, which can lead him to scratch you on your face.
Generally, for a cat to climb down the tree, he needs to fall or jump into numerous, smaller, and safer landing areas on his own accord.
However, before this can commence, make sure that the cat is ready to come down. And you’ll know by simply surveying the terrain.
If you are not observant of the surrounding, you may never realize that at the moment, the cat feels better or safer up there. Some of the possible explanations for this include:
- The cat may have found a bird’s nest; so, he may still be in a hunting mode.
- Your home may be busy and noisy at the moment, and your cat needs some private time.
- Some wild animals, large dogs, or neighborhood pets are chasing your cat, or are roaming freely on the ground.
If your dog is the cause of your problem the solution is easy. Shepherd any other animal into your home and put them inside until your pet is safe.
If a local neighbor irritates your cat, stay calm and have a friendly talk with him/her. Explain your situation and ask whether he can stop his activities. When a cat gets nervous it will get worse. The cat might want a clear escape route before he’ll think about going down.
If your cat is stuck in a tree by choice, he will normally come down when he is ready. However, you should still keep an eye on him, and you can’t definitely wait indefinitely. A cat may develop hepatic lipidosis if he can’t drink water within 2 days, and can’t eat within 3 to 4 days.
2. Keep the Cat Calm
The calmer a cat is the more he regains confidence. Facial expressions are as vital a physical feature as their visual cue.
This means that you should also show that you are calm and collected, so your cat won’t pick up on your tense emotion.
You should also talk to your cat in a soft tone. Call him by his name, or use words that he can recognize. And don't forget to smile!
Feel free to use external sources to keep your cat calm. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains how cat-specific music has soothing effects on felines.
Play music on a speaker not so loud that it can startle your cat, but loud enough that it can make an impact.
It also helps to make yourself as little as possible so that your cat feels safe within the tree. You can do this by crouching or bending on your knees.
Also, make sure you are moving away from the tree to allow your cat more room so he feels safer.
3. Create a Soft Landing
A big tree can be your cat's friend. The higher the cat is the more likely he is to reach the terminal velocity. Terminal speed signifies that air resistance is equal to the weight of the cat. This should give your cat enough time to distribute a lot of weight.
Your cat will exercise some instinctive ‘right-shifting’ reflex in turning his hand for landing on all fours. However, never trust the cliché cats land on their feet. You must provide such a soft landing as possible.
A mattress is appropriate for this. If you don't have access to a mattress, you can use blankets and cushions. These have better impact absorption than pillows.
Also, if you have a blanket with your cat's smell, use this. It will capture your cat's attention and create sensations of comfort in his mind.
4. Gently Lure or Tempt Your Cat Down
Take up toys or snacks to lure your pet to go down, or use a laser pointer. This is a good step but you should not expect any quick results.
If it's your cat, reach for his favorite toys and appeal to his fun-loving nature. Rub this toy in catnip or some similar thing.
Put it agonizingly away from your cat. If necessary, aim it higher as it can inspire your cat to move slowly one branch at a time
Cats can't survive on apples or other fruit. If wild prey cannot be found, the cat will eventually be hungry and climb down for food.
Put a tempting treat such as a tin of fresh fish or a bowl of canned cat food into the bottom of the tree. Move away and try to keep out of sight.
The cat will only take the lure when he thinks it is safe to do so. If it's your cat, use his favorite food or treat. If you don't know the cat, leave food that has a strong smell, such as canned tuna.
As you are doing this, make sure you're available. The last thing you want is your cat to try and eat the bait and then jump back to the tree again. Plan the capture as soon as your cat's paw touches the ground.
If your cat has played with the wind or has been lemming into the trunk it may be time to try to pull out the bait and go back.
A laser pointer is a good choice because no matter how high the tree is, the laser can reach the branch where your cat is seated. Make sure not to shine it in your cat's eyes.
Depending on the position of your kitten, you can also use a toy on a wand to capture his attention and inspire him to move towards the toy. Some cats follow the toy toward the trunk, and afterward gain the confidence to descend!
5. Give Him Time
If your cat wasn't tempted by your actions, then he may be waiting until darkness falls. Many cats think they're safe in their dark surroundings to move without assistance.
Don't leave foods outside, though, as this can attract other wild animals in the area, which can discourage your cat from going down once again.
It would be better to use a cat carrier as a trap. Place the food inside the cat carrier and watch from an acceptable distance.
Once you see your cat gets inside the carrier, walk towards it and close it. Now, you can finally bring your indoor cat inside your home just in time for his good night's sleep.
If your feline friend is not in immediate danger, the tree isn’t that high, and there are enough branches where he can descend slowly, then, it’s best to just give your cat time. He will climb down the tree on his own accord.
Cats are shy sometimes and they do not like people's help and affection. In this case, it will be helpful if you leave nutritious food at the base of the tree. As soon as they get bored, they may choose to do so on their own.
However, you should always monitor your cat from a distance to ensure his safety from other animals. And keep your eyes on the ground in case your pet needs attention.
Give him a few hours. And if he doesn’t make any progress, then, it’s time to call for assistance or come to the rescue.
6. Come to the Rescue
If the above methods don’t work, you may now try to climb the tree to get your cat. Make sure to use a sturdy ladder, and have someone hold it to keep it from moving. You also need someone to assist you in case of an accidental fall.
For added protection from your anxious and/or frightened cat, wear long sleeves and gloves. And if possible, place the cat inside a carrier, and lower it to your rescue partner. It will make it easier and safer for you to climb down the tree.
7. Call For Assistance
If your cat is trapped in the trees for over 24 hours, it could be time to call the rescue services. Your best bet is to call animal control officials from a local rescue.
Most fire departments no longer have the time to respond to cat rescue orders. However, if you live in a rural area and there are no other emergency calls at the moment, your chances of success could be high.
Another possibility is to call local arborists. These professionals know how to climb trees safely, and they have all the necessary safety equipment for the rescue operation.
You'll have to pay for their effort, though, but such a small fee would be worth it if they get your cat down.
Will a Cat Come Out of a Tree on its Own?
If a cat finds a safe path, he will most probably find his way down. However, as mentioned earlier, cats may also stay there for several reasons and for what may seem like a very long time. And then, they will just go down effortlessly by themselves and at their own pace.
If a cat becomes hungry, his instinct to seek something to eat will overpower his apprehension. Hence, it’s important that they have a safe landing, have an escape path, or someone to rescue them once they are ready to go down, yet are unable to do so.
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