cat in tree...
April 11, 2010 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Help! Our cat is stuck in a tree!

Lucy is stuck in a tree! She is about 30 feet up and hollering (she's a Siamese so she hollers but this is REALLY hollering). It's breezy and whenever the tree moves in the wind she gets scared and climbs higher. Our tallest ladder reaches about 10 feet below her. She's never climbed a tree before and I don't think she knows how to climb down.

She always comes running when she hears a tin of catfood opening but that didn't make her budge despite the fact that it's dinnertime and she's ALWAYS hungry... I am reading horror stories on the internet about cats being stuck in trees for 9 days and it's getting dark and we would be horrified if anything happened to her.

What do we do?? Can we call the fire department?? Please don't say wait it out, because what if she came down in the middle of the night and couldn't get back in the house--we have another cat and a dog so we can't leave the door open for her-- she would totally get eaten by a possum /raccoon/coyote.
posted by jschu to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
No, don't wait--I'd call local animal control and see what they suggest.
posted by leesh at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2010

If there's a Home Depot or Lowes's near you, you could run out and buy a tall ladder. But if not, I would call the fire department or public works, or a tree company....
posted by mmf at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2010

You can call the fire department and you can also call animal control. It is also true that cats will come down when they are hungry enough, but it's okay not to wait for them if you are worried.
posted by jessamyn at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It's sunday evening-- they are closed!
posted by jschu at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2010

There is probably a non-emergency phone number for your local fire department in the Yellow Pages or on Google. I would call that and ask if they can help you (rather than call 911). I am sure this would not be their first such request.
posted by kate blank at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: that was in reference to animal control
posted by jschu at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2010

Can you call 311? If you have one for your area, call and ask them; that's what it's there for.
posted by sallybrown at 3:12 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: I looked at the Conroe Fire Department Advice, they say wait and they won't come - and that some people have hired cherry pickers to get the cat down.

This is what "cherry picker" hire in yellow pages pulled up - maybe call the ones that say they do emergencies? This one seems to be the nearest to you. Hope this helps.
posted by Augenblick at 3:14 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: We recently got a friends cat out of a tree, she was about the same height.. We had 2 people holding a bedspread out like a safety net under the cat and one of us climbed the tree and were able to toss the cat onto the 'safety net'.

If you can get close enough with the ladder you can try to nudge her from the tree with a broom or something. Just be sure you have a couple people holding out a 'safety net'.
posted by raintheory at 3:15 PM on April 11, 2010

Relax. I once had a fireman ask me "have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?" Your cat will come down. Is the tree in your yard, or across the street? Has she gotten out before?

When my cat got stuck in a tree, I wasn't worried about her being up a tree, but was worried about what would happen when she got down (she was across the street in a park, and I imagined her getting mauled by a dog on her way back home).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:20 PM on April 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: She is still up there. She is showing signs of trying to get down. We called the non emergency fire dept and they said try food.

We called the tree service hat Augenblick recommended and they go "Do you have a pellet gun?" and then said he'd call to see if one of his guys was available. I'm afraid they'll charge big! But we love this cat.

Someone else said try squirting it with a water hose which was effective last summer when Lucy was trying to fight a snake. But I am afraid that will just make her climb higher.

I am small so I might see if I can climb up there a la raintheory's method if she doesn't make any progress in the next hour or so.
posted by jschu at 3:26 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: Four people beneath cat-laden branch holding quilt. One person climbs ladder, bashes branch with long stick. Cat falls into quilt, hates you for a week or two.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:29 PM on April 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

This happened once with a cat my in-laws were taking care of for a neighbor. The cat snuck out the door and a dog chased it up the nearest tree. The fire dept wouldn't come so we borrowed a ladder from a telephone company worker. I climbed the ladder and the wind was making the tree sway and the cat was freaking out. All the cat did was climb even higher. A water hose wouldn't shoot that high. We finally had to give up and wait it out. I believe it took a couple days but they do come down when they get tired of being trapped.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:39 PM on April 11, 2010

Hope it all goes ok for you. Just wanted to say I was looking for those firms via yellow pages - am based London UK so can't say I recommend them, just completely understand how much I would be worried about either of my cats and thought I'd have a look.

Only other thing would be could you call a vet and see what they recommend? Good luck, cat lovers across the world are thinking of you guys!
posted by Augenblick at 3:39 PM on April 11, 2010

This happened to my cat once and I also panicked and called the fire dept (they wouldn't come) and the humane society (who told me they would come if I surrendered my cat). Butchie was REALLY stuck -- and she was just a kitten! It was awful. As advertised,
however, she made it down the next morning. It will be okay. You'll see. :)
posted by Maisie at 3:41 PM on April 11, 2010

I was house-sitting once and the indoor-only cat got out and ran up a tree. I spent hours trying to get it down and it just scratched at me. Finally I called the owners and they said "don't worry, just leave her there and she will eventually come down." They found her a few days later hiding under the house.
posted by radioamy at 3:44 PM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: OMG you guys she just got divebombed by a hawk (bigger than her) and 2 blackbirds. I can't climb high enough to do anything...
posted by jschu at 3:48 PM on April 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Do you have a can of tuna, anchovies, or sardines that you can sit at the bottom of the tree and casually open?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:50 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

"How to get a cat out of a tree".

Step 3: Lean a wooden ladder up against the tree near the cat so she can climb down. Leave her alone with the ladder for at least 15 minutes so she can climb down on her own.
posted by iviken at 3:57 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

suggestions from experience:

1) climb tree, grab cat (works but you need a good tree climber who doesn't mind getting scratched)
2) get long stick and show the cat how to get down (this has always worked, but if the cat is too high, you can't do it)
3) wait until the cat gets down by herself

Every cat I know. and I have known many. that has gotten stuck in a tree has gotten down safely, one way or another.
posted by fifilaru at 4:00 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take a few breaths and calm down. Nothing bad will happen to your cat. Cats of all types climbs trees all the time in the wild and domestically. Despite the miaows, this is not dangerous, life-threatening, or an imminent threat.

If she jumps out she will land fine, if she doesn't she'll just climb down when hunger conquers fear. She could stay up there four days and still be A-okay. I guarantee you she will be down faster than that. Go make yourself a cup of chamomile tea, and put on a movie or something.
posted by smoke at 4:00 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Iviken has a good one we just used last week, prop a tall ladder against the tree. The cat will climb down, at least ours did.
posted by fifilaru at 4:01 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: All you folks saying to wait it out - the OP is worried that the cat will come down in the middle of the night and encounter a coyote or other hostile wildlife.
posted by amtho at 4:03 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Apparently Home Depot and Lowes rent ladders. Call around and see if any of the local spots have a long enough ladder. Good luck, and don't worry -- your cat will be fine, even against hawks. Throw rocks if you must.
posted by spiderskull at 4:13 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: (Uh, at the birds.. not the cat)
posted by spiderskull at 4:14 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Listing of tool rental places in Texas. I'm assuming the location in your profile is still accurate.
posted by spiderskull at 4:17 PM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you thank you everybody... Lucy is safe and in . My dad climbed as high as he could and shook the tree til Lu slipped down 3 or 4 feet. It was horrible to watch as the tree is a Sweet Gum and the spiky little sweet gum balls were falling in our eyes as we held the ladder.

He then grabbed her and she settled on his shoulder and rode down as he descended the ladder. She is now sprawled out regally, completely unembarassed.

While he was up there my dad also spotted the lizard she must have been chasing up at the smallest branches at the top of the tree.

The lizard is also fine.

Thanks again, everybody's input was helpful and reassuring.
posted by jschu at 4:22 PM on April 11, 2010 [30 favorites]

I am glad Lucy is no longer in the sky.
posted by longsleeves at 4:35 PM on April 11, 2010 [41 favorites]

Yay, Lucy is rescued! Dads always come through, don't they?

May I suggest trimming some of the bottom branches off of that Sweet Gum tree to make it less tempting for Lucy in the future?
posted by misha at 5:16 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

In case of future similar incidents, you can actually teach Lucy how to climb down by deliberately putting her up a short tree like an ornamental dogwood, or an immature tree. After several close calls with our cat, we spent two or three hours putting her up in a little tree and showing her how to climb down. Next time she was chased up a big tree by the neighbor's dog, she waited till he left and climbed safely back down on her own.
posted by mmf at 5:40 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

For future reference, go to
to find a nearby arborist (or, if there's not one listed, start calling them).
posted by Red Loop at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2010

For future reference for anyone reading this thread - having a 2x4 around is handy for this kind of situation. You climb up as close as you can get, and then extend the 2x4 to the cat. This extends your reach by 8 or more feet depending on the length of the board. They'll figure it out fairly quick, and walk down the board. (This came in handy when a cat was treed in our front yard by stray dogs in the area.)
posted by azpenguin at 8:04 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Relax. I once had a fireman ask me "have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?"

Well, no. They're picked off by raccoons or owls either in the tree or after they hit the ground.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2010

The greatest danger here is that you could fall trying to get her down.

You know what I would try? Using a weight on the end of a string or fishing line, I would throw a light line over a branch above the cat, Then I would tie a heavier rope on to that, and pull it over the branch. Next, I'd hoist a cage or box with a blanket (with one of her toys or treats inside) to coax her into the box. Cat elevator.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:41 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of course, the OP's comment is the one I missed. Glad she's down.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:44 PM on April 11, 2010

Late to the party but I'm glad Lucy is safe. It's incredibly frustrating when people dismiss cats stuck in trees with "Oh, he'll come down when he's hungry." My cat Fergus was stuck 30' up a tree for nearly three days. He did not come down, he only went higher. Finally I found someone willing and able enough to climb up the tree for me (fire departments don't rescue cats, neither does animal control). We affixed a laundry basket to a rope and hooked the rope over the branch Fergus was on. His rescuer put him in the basket, and I lowered him to the ground. If it happens again I'll try the basket on its own first, like weapons-grade pandemonium suggested.

Previously I was able to coax him into climbing down a ladder, but the last time he was just too high.

And unfortunately, I don't have any smaller trees around to teach him how to climb down. Although that's a great idea.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:58 PM on April 11, 2010

Another "for future reference" item. I work with many firefighters, and they have a policy against cat-in-tree rescues. At one point we received a frantic call by the owner of (I'm not kidding) an IGUANA that was similarly stuck and unlikely to survive the Alaskan night. We recommended that she call a tree surgeon for assistance. Not only did he come over right away; he effected the rescue at no charge. Happy ending.
posted by wjm at 2:48 AM on April 12, 2010

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