Cats in Trees
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Cats in Trees

by David Stevenson, Odette Brown, Paul F. Hoff & Nicola Kingston


The question was asked:
Some friends of mine have a very nervous cat which has been stuck some 40+ feet up a [mostly] branchless pine tree for five days. The tree is in the back yard, and inaccessible to ladder & bucket trucks. They've called various tree services, which have either responded that they don't retrieve cats [their experience is that the cats generally just go further out on a branch] or not responded. So far, the cat hasn't responded [except to meow] to calls, food, rain. Any useful advice/suggestions/wisdom?

One short reply was:
I take it you mean 'trucks with ladders'? Don't you have a decent length extending ladder? Or know someone who has?

Another reply was:
I'm not sure that this will help, but a little while ago I saw another post about a cat in a tree and one of the responses read something to the effect of "How often have you seen a cat skeleton in a tree?" meaning that sooner or later the cat will find it's own way down

Odette Brown said:
No, because the skeleton will fall down anyway! This tree should be tied up and cut down, call a tree expert!

My comment was:
Please do not quote this saying. What happens is that eventually the cat gets so weak it falls out of the tree and may die. If it does not come down in about twelve hours, it does need to be rescued.

Paul F. Hoff said:
David is correct. The cat is at dire risk of dehydration, weakness, falling. The best bet is to get the owner up there; there are 60' ladders, though it takes a bit of nerve to climb then. Manhandling the cat may be necessary; the harm from that is bound to be less than a forty-foot fall. Act quickly.


Paul F. Hoff told me a story:
I recall once my Jabba (who got to spend one rural summer outside in her 16 years) got herself up an ash, and then got her belly caught in the narrow crotch of two branches. She was up about thirty feet, and, brave soul, didn't start complaining until we started looking for her at nightfall.

It took me, on a forty foot ladder, in the dark, to rescue her. It also took manhandling her, some impressive wounds to my shoulder and arms, and a few seconds of raw fear to gather her to safety. She was fully as terrified as I was, and I had no choice but to control her and accept the pain.

As it was in a woods, there was no safer alternative to the ladder, and leather gloves and gauntlets (though they were available) weren't an alternative, since they would have been at Jabba's risk.

The things we do for our critters.


Nicola Kingston wrote to me with her story:
We've just had a cat up tree experience, or should I say kitten up tree experience (even more worrying). We found your site very interesting and helpful so thought you might like to hear our experience - people might find it useful.

My boyfriend came home to hear the kitten mewing up in our neighbours 'Leylandii' tree. If you don't know what these trees are - well they're huge great alpine type trees and this one was taller than our 3 storey house. The cat was about half way up at this point and he looked very scared and was shaking alot. Boyfriend gets the long ladder out and extends it up the trunk of the tree and climbs up with a long piece of wood. Kitten gingerly paws it and promptly goes higher. The cat is getting more nervous as is boyfriend as cat is heading out towards the ends of branches instead of staying safe close to the trunk. Boyfriend starts consulting RSPCA, fire brigade and websites for advice.

I get home 4 hours later and having been a keen tree climber in my youth have no trouble extending the ladder to furthest extent and climbing up into tree. Cat very scared and shaking and was too high to reach but I think he was reassured by me just being up in the tree with him, because he started making moves to try and work out how to get down or at least to me. We tried again with the pole, trying to make a walkway between me and the cat, but the angle was too steep and I couldn't support it on anything. The cat knew it wasn't safe and wouldn't get on. Boyfriend then had the fab idea of strapping our catbox to a big sturdy pole which he passed up to me. I raised this up to the cat's level and lo and behold he got in! So all I had to do was gently lower it down to boyfriend and then get out of the tree myself!

Kitten of course was absolutely undaunted by the whole experience and immediately started chasing flies. Boyfriend and I on the other hand had to have a beer.


Gopher Editor's note:

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