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How Do I Get A Cat Out Of A Tree?

Do you need help getting your cat out of a tree? If you are wondering how to rescue your cat and who to call for help, I'm here to answer those questions and more. Jump in and learn all about how to get your cat out of a tree.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: June 5, 2024 | 8 min read

Cat in a tree.

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It’s no secret that cats are fantastic climbers, but that does not mean they should be allowed to freely climb neighborhood trees. While it might seem natural for cats to feel comfortable in trees due to their climbing ability, they can easily get stuck high up in the branches and have trouble getting down. Even if you see a kitty climb up the trunk and branches willingly, don’t assume they will be able to come down without assistance.

There can be dire consequences if a cat is stuck in a tree for too long. Going too long without food or water can damage their health, and being unable to get down is a very scary situation.

What should you do if your cat gets stuck in a tree? How do you get cats out of trees? Will the local fire department or city come and help in this situation? There’s a lot to know about getting cats down from trees, and you must be sure to do it in a way that is safe for both you and your cat. Let’s get into it and discuss how to get cats out of trees.

How Do Cats Get Stuck In Trees?

Cats are very skilled climbers. They like to get up high to get a better vantage point, and as born hunters with claws built for climbing, it’s no surprise they can scurry up trees remarkably quickly.

Cats can climb up trees extremely swiftly, so it is surprising that coming down is as difficult as it is. This difficulty comes from their sharp claws. Their claws work very well to dig into the bark and pull the body upwards; however, this doesn’t work as well in reverse. Some incredibly talented kitties have learned to climb backward down the trunk, but this is not common. While every feline has the ability to do this, some may be afraid, especially if they are stuck on a branch rather than the trunk.

How Do I Get A Cat Out Of A Tree?

The first step to getting your fur baby out of a tree is to remember not to panic.

You want to try the least traumatic method possible to get your cat down from the trees. It’s important not to simply run and get a ladder and race up the branches to try to grab your pet. This may scare them and cause them to retreat even higher.

Before attempting any method of extracting your pet, it is essential to secure any dogs in the immediate area. You do not want them to be drawn into the excitement, start barking, and cause this situation to worsen. Removing all distractions is important to help keep your fur baby as calm as possible.

Always be careful not to risk your safety when trying to rescue your kitty from the branches. Before attempting any kind of recovery, be sure to wear appropriate footwear and clothing. If possible, you may want to take some work gloves with you. When cats get scared, they are likely to lash out and have very sharp claws and teeth. Even the sweetest of cats can turn into a whirlwind of fur and claws when they are scared or feel threatened. Be sure to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from scratches, bites, and injury from the tree.

Before attempting any recovery, you must also be sure that the cat is genuinely stuck. If your inside kitty gets stuck up a tree, of course, you will want to help get them out. However, if it is an outdoor-only cat, a stray, or a neighborhood working cap, they may not truly be stuck. So, before entering any kind of risky situation, be sure a rescue is necessary.

6 Ways To Get A Cat Out Of Trees

Below are six common and effective ways to get cats out of trees.

1. Wait It Out

The first option you have is to simply wait for a feline to come down on their own. In many cases, cats will eventually find their own way down. Making a big deal, fretting, and involving more bystanders may prevent them from wanting to come down. If you believe they are safe, there are no dangers to them on the ground, and you will be around to ensure nothing happens, it is okay to try waiting it out for a few hours.

2. Coaxing Them Down

Coaxing your pet out on its own is always better than trying to physically remove them yourself. If it is a lower branch, and your kitty seems like they are actively trying to come down, placing a very strongly scented food at the bottom of the tree may help lower them down. Tuna-flavored kitty food works well, as does a can of tuna in a pinch.

Of course, this method will attract other animals in the neighborhood, so you will have a limited amount of time for it to work. This method is quite simple: just place the bait and then wait and see if your kitty will come down. Use a gentle, soothing voice with encouraging tones to try to help coax them down.

3. Try A Laser Pointer

Another option to lure your kitty down from a high branch is to use a laser pointer. Laser pointers send cats into an absolute frenzy. My cats will literally climb the walls to catch one. You can take the laser pointer and point it a small distance ahead of where your pet is on the branch. Once you get your kitty’s attention, slowly move the laser pointer in a path to help your kitty down the tree.

4. Use A Ladder

Using a ladder that reaches high enough into the tree for you to climb up closer safely is also an option. Take some strong-smelling treats or kitty food with you. Climb as close to your fur baby as possible and remain comfortable and safe. Then, try to coax them down. Once they reach your reach, you can either carry them down the ladder if they will allow you to or let them climb down the ladder themselves. If another person is available to assist you, they can stand towards the bottom of the ladder, and you can hand the cat down.

Some rescuers like to use a bag, like a large backpack or pet carrier, to transport the kitty down safely. A thicker bag with shoulder straps, like a backpack, works well if you can get your fur baby to go in it.

Our Personal Experience Using A Ladder To Get A Cat Out Of A Tree

I had an indoor/outdoor cat, Charley, who absolutely loved to climb trees. Even though he was 10 years old at the time, he got into kitten mode one morning and scaled a 10+ foot tree in my front yard. I heard him meowing loudly, came out to investigate, and found him in distress way up in the tree. My husband brought out a tall ladder with treats in hand to try to coax him off the high branch. But he wouldn’t budge — he looked terrified. Of course, right after we called our local emergency services, my kitty found his way down safely. But it was such a scary situation.

Sally Jones, Cat Parent, Love Your Cat Research, Writing, & Editing

5. Create An Alternate Route Down

Another method that will prevent you from having to climb up a ladder yourself is creating an alternate route down. Your fur baby may also be more comfortable with this method. If you have sturdy boards available, you can lay them against the tree and create a sturdy path down. Place treats on the makeshift bridge you’ve created to help entice your cat to walk down it.

6. Call For Help

If you cannot coax your kitty down, retrieve them yourself, or create an alternate route, you may be left with no choice but to call for help.

If your kitten has been in the tree for more than 24 hours, it’s time to take action. Many municipalities and fire departments will not respond to calls for help when pets are stuck in trees. You can always try these options first. Your local animal control department or fire department may be willing to come and help. If they are not, you can reach out to local arborists.

Arborists and tree trimming companies generally have the equipment needed to get high up in trees, including bucket lifts. They can easily ascend the distance, scoop your cat up, and calm down in a matter of minutes. Of course, there will be a charge for this service, but it is well worth the expense.

See A Real Life Rescue Of Cat From A Super Tall Tree

The video below shares a real-life rescue of cats from extremely tall trees thanks to the Canopy Cat Rescue team.

Safely Back On The Ground

Once your fur baby is safely back on the ground, be sure to give them a full once-over. Look for any signs of injury, scratches, cuts, or pieces of branches stuck in the skin. Examine their claws and paw pads to ensure no debris is stuck in them or any injury.

Now that you have ensured that your pet is physically okay, take them back inside, provide them with fresh food and water, and create a very calm environment. They will need time to decompress and recover from the excitement. If your fur baby is allowed to roam outside, it may be wise to reevaluate that if they’ve gotten stuck in dangerous places. An enclosed catio or outdoor climbing structure is a safer option than free roaming.

If your indoor-only kitty escaped outside and got stuck up in a tree, it is important that you find out where they got out from and close up any openings to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Cats are extremely skilled at finding their way outside through ridiculously small openings, so it is important to regularly inspect all areas of your home for possible escape routes outside. Pay extra special attention to areas like the garage, the front door, and windows on the home’s upper floors.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve covered some of the most often-asked questions about getting cats out of trees below, but if I didn’t get to yours, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Can I call the fire department to take my cat out of a tree?

Despite the age-old depiction of fire departments racing to the rescue when a kitten is stuck in a tree, most modern fire departments will not perform this kind of rescue. You may have better luck calling a tree trimming company, arborist, animal rescue group, or even your utility company.

How long can cats survive in a tree?

Cats can survive for perhaps a day or two, but they will quickly become weak and dehydrated without food and water. Along with that, there are other risks, including weather, falling out of the tree, or being attacked by another animal outside.

Can a cat survive falling from a tree?

Cats often land on their feet but may suffer injuries if they fall a large distance. These can include a broken bone, sprain, or trauma to the head or chest.

Even if your kitty does not get stuck in a tree, there are many other dangers they may encounter. Pet insurance can be a helpful tool. It can help cover the cost of care in an emergency so you can focus on your pet’s recovery. Learn more about what pet insurance covers in our guide.

Keeping Your Cat Entertained

Your feline family member needs plenty of refreshing, interactive daily play and exercise, regardless of age. They require both mental and physical stimulation. Be prepared to spend at least one-half an hour to an hour a day playing with your pet. Provide them with different exercise options, like kitty treadmills, steps for the wall, and climbing structures like cat trees.

You can also invest in tunnels and interactive toys like the floppy fish. Take your kitty outside for a walk on a leash or in a stroller. A bored feline is more likely to seek adventure elsewhere, so provide them with a well-rounded and constantly changing selection of entertainment and toys.

Why Trust Love Your Cat?

Danielle is a devoted pet owner with over 30 years of feline care experience. She has expertise in caring for cats with special medical needs, including deafness, kidney disease, urinary dysfunction, and more. Danielle has a special place in her heart for needy animals. Every fur baby she has is a rescue pet. Danielle is an enthusiastic and skilled researcher who spends countless hours investigating and learning about the latest data, scientific developments, trends, care, and health. Her goal is to provide feline owners with valuable information to better the quality of their pet’s lives.

Cat with cat tree that has liter box on the bottom and litter box next to it.

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