One of my favorite and most enduring cat sitting memories is walking Rusty on his harness and leash. Rusty is a tiny, bright orange Devon Rex and the sweetest cat ever. So I was shocked and horrified when the little guy ran up a tree! Sometimes cats get stuck in trees when they go up so high they can’t jump down.
Fortunately, Rusty didn’t get stuck. And since then we’ve figured out a way for him to go up and down safely.
Why Cats Get Stuck In Trees
Cats’ bodies are designed to go forward, not backward. And while they like to climb up, they prefer to jump when it’s time to come down.
When cats get stuck in trees, blame their claws. Since they’re curved forward, getting a grip and going backward isn’t easy. Cats’ back legs are stronger than their front legs, too, and that also makes going backward really difficult. Of course, they could turn around and go down headfirst. But that would feel very scary to most cats and wouldn’t even occur to many of them.
Another problem with climbing down a tree is habit. Cats are used to seeing what’s in front of them. Walking (or climbing) backward is scary, too!
If Your Cat Gets Stuck In A Tree
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a cat’s stuck in a tree or is just staying up there to enjoy the view. If you’re pretty sure he’s stuck, don’t panic! Remember, cats pick up on our thoughts, even if they’re many feet above us at the top of a tree. If you’re very anxious, he’ll be even more scared.
If you stay calm, you might be able to talk him down, especially if you have a bag of treats. The treats could give him the incentive to make the leap to a lower place. Hold your arms up so he can see you’re ready to catch him if he falls and guide him down when he’s within reach. And talk to him quietly. Cats never like loud voices, and yelling his name and begging him to come down is just going to make him want to stay where he is.
Oh, and about guiding him down when he’s within reach. Push him gently, and let him get his bearings after each move. If his claws are dug into the tree, don’t try to pull him off. You could get scratched, and you don’t want him to get so scared he goes back up the tree.
Who Do You Call When A Cat’s Stuck In A Tree?
The answer here is not the fire department! They won’t come, but a tree service will.
Don’t wait too long to call. It’s a myth that the cat will come down when he’s hungry enough, or cold enough, or wet enough. If he’s stuck in a tree, he’s really stuck and needs help getting down.
I have to admit watching Rusty climb that tree still makes me nervous. I hold the leash so he can’t get beyond the lowest branch. When he’s ready, he can easily jump down and we go on our way. Our next stop is usually the deck. That’s our favorite place on a sunny day.