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My cat is stuck in a tree

Our neighbor's cat Billy is pretending to be stuck in a tree for the purposes of this article.
Our neighbor's cat Billy is pretending to be stuck in a tree for the purposes of this article.
Maria Javanainen

Did you just get a new kitten who would love to explore the tops of those Maples in the back yard? Do you have a curious old cat friend who loves to chase birds through the branches? It happens... your brave little pal goes too high and decides that attempting to climb down is just not possible. Cats and especially kittens get stuck in trees all the time. Their natural curiosity lures them higher and their claw anatomy keeps them there. Cat claws are designed for climbing up, but the claws are curved the wrong way to allow them to climb down head first.  A tree climber has to learn to climb down backwards if they want to keep from getting trapped.

If they do get stuck, it may be your job to get them down again. A cat rescue is probably not the local fire departments idea of rookie training, so you may want to try a few things on your own first. Of course, you can wait a little while to see if they come down on their own, but don't be surprised if they don't. Cats have been known to stay in trees for weeks until they become too tired, thirsty and hungry to hold on any longer. Try to coax them down with sweet words and noises. Bring out a can of cat food or their favorite treats. Try using a ladder, but be careful. Many cats are scared and carrying them down from a high ladder may prove to be difficult and dangerous. You can try spreading bird seed at the base of the tree to lure unsuspecting feathered fliers. You may want to make a pile of soft material like blankets and pillows to cushion a fall or jump. Try using something that your cat specifically likes (like their favorite toy) to lure them down. One of my cats always seems to show up when there is a fresh pan of litter.

If your stubborn fuzzball still won't climb down, try making some phone calls. Local animal shelters, tree surgeons, friendly painters with extra long stable ladders and anybody you can think of that may be able and willing to help. Calling the police or the fire department should be a last resort.

Just remember to stay calm and don't panic. Your cat will sense your anxiety too and is much less likely to lend a helping paw. If your cat tends to get stuck in trees a lot, you can help teach them to climb down on small trees or try a cat tower. Good luck!