How to Get a Cat out of a Tree

From wikiHow:

It is usually easy for cats to climb up trees, but getting down may be a different story. Their claws are great for helping them climb up, but not so great at helping them climb down. A cat stuck in a tree may get scared and sometimes the more you try to talk it down, the more scared it becomes. In order to get a cat calmed down and down from a tree safely you can try a variety of strategies.

Coaxing a Cat Down From a Tree

  1. Determine exactly where the cat is if you can’t see it right away. What part of the tree is it stuck in and how high up is it? Figuring out exactly where the cat is will help you decide how to help it out of the tree.
  2. Lock away any dogs in the area. The goal is to calm the cat down and make it comfortable enough to come out of the tree on its own. Dogs will just get over-excited by having the cat up a tree and cause the cat more stress.
  3. Try to coax the cat down before trying to physically remove it. Call up to the cat. If the cat is not yours, try to find its owner and have them call to the cat. A cat is more likely to come to a person that it knows.
    * Clicker training can be very helpful if your cat repeatedly gets stuck in trees. Using a clicker to reinforce the behavior, you can train your cat to come when you call their name. This kind of training can sometimes override fear and hesitation in the cat.
  4. Use treats or other incentives to coax the cat down. If it’s your cat, use the treat that they like best. If you don’t know the cat, try using a treat that smells strongly, such as tuna.
    * Leave a bowl of dry food at the base of the tree and then walk away. If the cat doesn’t know you, it’s best to walk away and let the cat come down for the food.
  5. Use a laser pointer to lure the cat down. If the cat likes to play with the dot from a laser pointer, you may be able to side track it into coming down to chase it. Obtain a laser pointer and aim it at a spot where the cat can see it. Almost all cats will be interested in little light like your pointer.
    * Move the point of light down the tree trunk. Repeat this as many times as needed to gain the cat’s attention and interest. With any luck, the cat will follow the dot of light down.
  6. Keep an eye on the cat but give it time to come down on its own. Try cautiously waiting before proceeding with any of the other methods of getting it down. Cats often come down of their own accord, given time and space. The cat may just need space, quiet, and reassurance that no other animals or people are hanging about to bother it.
    * Also, if you wait, the cat will become hungry and may try to come down on its own.
  7. Decide to take more active measures to get the cat down from the tree. This should only happen after you have waited for the cat to come down on its own for a significant amount of time, about 24 hours. Remember, a cats claws are good for climbing up a tree but they are not as good for climbing down. Your cat may genuinely be stuck and need your help!

Helping a Cat Down From a Tree

  1. Lay something against the tree that the cat can climb down. This could be a long, fallen branch or an extension ladder. If the angle of the item you lay against the tree is more gradual, the cat may be more comfortable climbing down it.
    * Once again, give the cat time to decide to use this new escape route. Make sure the new escape route is really secure against the tree and then walk away.
  2. Try sending a cat carrier up the tree. Throw a rope over the branch the cat is sitting on and then tie a cat carrier to one of the ends of the rope. Make sure the door or top of the carrier is open and then pull it up to the cat with the rope.
    * You can also put some favorite food with a strong smell inside the carrier.
    * Wait for the cat to go inside. Be patient. If, after several hours, the cat does not go into the carrier, then you may need to climb up and put the cat inside of the carrier.
    * Once the cat goes into the carrier, gently but quickly lower the carrier to the ground.
  3. Use a towel and broom to get the cat out to the tree. This method is only suitable for when you can’t quite reach the cat but it’s almost close enough to grasp and if you have run out of other options, as it could traumatize the cat and has a greater risk of allowing the cat to fall and injure itself. Tie a towel firmly around the head of a broom. From a secure position, such as from the ground or from a secure position on a sturdy ladder, poke the cat with the broom enough to destabilize it. As the cat wobbles, its instincts will cause it to grab at the towel with its front claws, hooking them into the towel.
    * Pull steadily before the cat has time to let go, and it will attempt to hold both the tree and the towel with its claws. With luck, the well-hooked front claws will hold the towel more firmly than the rear claws can hold the tree, and your broom will have a cat holding onto it grimly with all claws.
    * Be ready to support the weight of broom plus a writhing cat.
    * Quickly slide your hand up the broom. Grab the cat by the scruff before it can climb back into the tree, making sure of course that you maintain your own grip on tree or ladder, or pass the broom and cat to a helper.
  4. Call a local arborist for help. While most fire departments will not come out to rescue a cat, local arborists will sometime do it. He or she will probably charge you a small fee to come out and rescue the cat but it may be worth it if the arborist can get the cat down safely.

Going up a Tree to get a Cat

  1. Go up the tree to get the cat if all other methods fail. Only use a sturdy ladder to climb up a tree unless you have extensive experience climbing trees. Have at least one other person with you if you’re going to go up after the cat. Your helper can warn you if the cat moves, and call for help if you fall.
    * If you are determined to actually climb up the tree after a cat, you should always use safety equipment so that you don’t get injured and make sure you have someone else with you in case of emergency.
  2. Check the ground around the tree before you begin to climb. Make sure that there is nothing that would increase the danger if you happen to fall while climbing.
    * Also make sure you have a sturdy ladder. The last thing you need is to get injured while trying to help a cat get down from a tree.
  3. Put on long sleeves and gloves before going up the tree. Whether you are rescuing a cat you know well or one you have never met before, the cat will probably be scared and may lash out. Long sleeves and gloves will protect you from the claws and teeth of the cat, but they will also give you a better chance of holding onto an agitated cat once you reach it.
  4. Grab the cat and hold it firmly after you reach it. It’s best to hold the cat by it’s scruff as it is easier to hold them and it puts them in a trance.
  5. Be gentle yet firm with the cat. Don’t allow it to escape before you have put it inside the carrier or get a good grasp on it.
    * Stay calm, if you panic then the cat will react badly and may not allow you to grab it.
  6. Place the cat inside something to make it easier to get to the ground. You can, for instance, put it inside a cat carrier and lower it to the ground with a rope.
  7. Climb down and then check for any injuries to yourself and the cat. The cat may be in shock from its traumatic experience, so make sure it is healthy before letting it go.