Getting a cat down from a tree without a ladder requires patience and guidance. Talking to your cat in a gentle tone and coaxing them to follow your instructions with food can work well. How you act and what you say is crucial during this time as cats can be really stubborn creatures.
One of the best ways to encourage your cat to navigate the limbs and branches of a tree is by making what is on the ground more interesting. For example, does your cat have a brother or sister? Place them beside you, and your cat may become curious enough to return to you. If not, try enticing it down with a bowl of food or its favorite toy.
You may have found that your cat has gone missing for days and then you spotted him/her stuck in a tree. In this guide, we will explore the reasons why cats climb trees and how to rescue a cat from a tree without a ladder.
Why Do Cats Get Stuck in Trees?
Cats climb trees and can’t get down because they’re curious creatures. While some tree adventures can be the result of being chased by a predator, cats are known for climbing trees to chase squirrels, chipmunks, birds, etc.
It is only when the fun has ended that they find themselves stuck and searching for a way to get down. If you find your cat in a tree, it is not by accident. Your cat had a reason, even if it was a foolish one.
How to Get a Cat Down from a Tree?
Getting a cat down from a tree is an exercise in patience, evaluation, and execution. The task must be delicate from start to finish. This goes for any physical requirements as well as voice tone.
If your cat is in a tree, there is a good chance that the tree is a familiar one. This can work in your favor as the familiarity of the tree can be comforting. It likely knows which limbs and which path will provide a safe exit.
There are many variables to consider, so let’s explore further.
1) Evaluate the Surroundings
Once you spot your cat in a tree, you should remain locked in for several seconds. Making sure your cat is in a safe area with a firm base is critical. Establishing that your cat is okay (from a health standpoint) should be your first objective.
After you have made a cursory evaluation, you should look at the base of the tree and all surrounding areas. While your cat’s climb may have been the result of a chase, they may have also been the one being chased. Look for any nearby predators and make sure that the area is clear. If your cat was chased up the tree and is fully aware of a predator on the ground, then a rescue attempt will likely be delayed.
- Never place yourself in danger while attempting to chase away a predator. If the neighbor’s cat is at the bottom of the tree, then you can take more liberty with the situation. However, if the culprit is a fox or a raccoon, you should be more safety-conscious.
2) Remain Calm and Talk to Your Cat
Always remain calm. Because it is fair to assume that your cat is rightfully spooked, the last thing you should do is panic. If you “freak out” your cat could continue to scale the tree out of additional fear.
If you have locked in on your cat (and it to you), talk to your cat in a calming and relaxing voice. If you play it cool and act like nothing is wrong, your cat is likely to take the same approach.
3) Attempt to Guide Your Cat Down
Once you have established a verbal connection with your cat, you can begin the process of leading it down the tree. Unless your cat is physically stuck, it will likely attempt to scale various limbs.
By using a gentle tone, you can encourage your cat to jump to specific limbs. Through these actions, you may be able to navigate the situation. The method of limb-to-limb guidance can work well if your cat is no more than 20-30 feet off the ground.
Depending on the type of tree, you may be able to grab smaller branches and bend them accordingly. If you can physically touch areas of the tree, you can guide your cat down based on your movements.
- If your cat has climbed a tree in your yard or just off from your property, you can use common associations to guide your cat to a safe landing. By pointing at various things and being accompanied by other family members, you may fare better.
4) Use Food as Encouragement
The use of food as a bait can be beneficial. The offering of food, while mixed with gentle voice tones, can give your cat extra encouragement. While some cats actively attempt to get down from trees, others are more contrarian and decide to play a game. In good health and fully capable of coming down, some cats want to stay up high and taunt the humans.
If this happens to be the case with your cat, you should try ratting some treats! Shaking the container of cat snacks can get them moving quickly. If you can coax your cat down without scaring them, you can once again act as a guide with your words.
5) Physically Remove the Cat
Before you make a sudden motion to grab your cat, you need to secure your safety while also providing an escape route for your cat. There is a good chance that your cat stopped out of fear rather than lacking a proper path. Even though your new goal is to remove your cat physically, you should also be prepared for your cat to jump. You naturally want to provide a safe landing zone in case this occurs.
If you can reach your cat and the limb(s) are solid and secure, grab your cat by the scruff. While not ideal, the scruff is designed for emergency carry as this is the way a mother cat often carries her kittens.
When Should You Use a Ladder and Call for Assistance?
If all other methods have been exhausted, then it is time to either use a ladder or call for assistance.
Noted below are some ladder tips you can utilize before and during the rescue…
- Find the tallest ladder available, secure it properly, and place it against the trunk of the tree. Have a group gathered beneath you in case emergency actions are required.
- If you are concerned about being scratched or bitten by your cat, you are encouraged to wear gloves. Wrapping a cat in a blanket upon rescue is also an option.
- If you are deeply concerned about your cat fighting you or losing it as you climb down, place your cat in a pillowcase. While this tactic may seem extreme, is it certainly no more extreme than your cat sitting in a tree for days, in the elements, without food and water.
If you are unable to rescue your cat with the use of a ladder, you can call your local fire department. Introducing tools and equipment that you do not have, your local fire and rescue should be able to save the day. Use this option as a last resort.
How Long Can a Cat Survive in a Tree?
Cats can survive in a tree for roughly 10-15 days without food and water. Perhaps longer. However, the age and general health standing of your cat will tell the full story. Weather conditions (heat, cold, snow, rain, etc.) are a further factor that needs to be considered. You should do everything possible to rescue it immediately. Never wait and come back tomorrow when your cat needs you now.
If you have exhausted all means of rescue, including fire department services, you may need to contact a tree specialist. Through the process of trimming and cutting limbs, they may be able to reach your cat safely.
How Far Can a Cat Fall and Survive?
Because cats have a large surface area in proportion to their weight, they can survive falls from great heights. Cats tend to fall at a slower rate, so the impact is lessened to some degree. There is a BBC story about how a Boston cat survived a fall from the 19th floor of a building.
Cats also have an uncanny ability to land on their feet. Evolved to fall from trees and other high places, cats can often twist and contort their bodies, so they land on their feet regardless of the fall. Equipped with muscular legs, cats can absorb the shock of a serious fall.
Although cats can fall from insane heights and survive, the objective should always be to avoid allowing this to happen. Depending on the landing area under a tree, it is possible for a cat to fall 15-20 feet without sustaining an injury. While slight muscle strains in the legs are possible, most healthy cats can jump or fall 10+ feet without breaking a bone.