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Don't panic if cat gets stuck in a tree

Dear Fisher,

I love to climb in trees but I never leave my yard. The other day, I was lurking from the branches and I heard a lot of commotion coming from the yard next door. Turns out my skittish neighbor cat that rarely gets to go outside escaped from his house, got scared when a car drove by, panicked and ended up in a high tree. It took two days to get him down. What would you suggest to get this situation corrected quicker?


There are two thoughts here that go against popular opinion. First, that firefighters will come to the rescue. Not so. They are no longer first responders to such emergencies. It is just against company policy.

Second, the theory that cats always land on their feet, therefore avoiding serious injury, is not true. When they are afraid, they tend to dig their claws into whatever they can and hang on for dear life. If their human were to pull them off the tree limb, the human arm would become the object of safety, often causing profuse bleeding. Obviously, sending up a helium filled balloon to transfer the cat down would not work either.

A cat's claws are designed to climb up but not down. If the human rushes to the garage to get the ladder — which will likely be too short anyway — he may just drive the cat further up the tree. Cats are very resourceful, and given time, space and dignity, they can master just about any situation.

Cats also know that the higher they are, the harder they are going to fall. The overriding issue here is fear — a fear of falling might keep him up the tere. It will be helpful if the people gathered on the ground remain calm. Or just go away.

What should your people do and who should they call? Here's a step-by-step response strategy:

1. Do not panic.

2. Have a plan before you need it. Visit for a list of rescue sources in your area. Call early to put them on notice in case you need their services later.

3. Place a bowl of water and some food at the bottom of the tree.

4. Pull up a lawn chair, make yourself comfortable, and read a good book.

And one other thing: Do not even try, "Here, kitty, kitty." The cat is already embarrassed and scared, but he is not stupid. Kitty can see "here" from "there". Give him a chance to work things out on his own.

— Fisher lives in Tampa Bay with her humans and loves to give advice. Send questions and a photo to or visit

Don't panic if cat gets stuck in a tree 07/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 4:08pm]
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