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How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree
Indoor cats are as a rule, highly pampered souls. They want for nothing. They have the latest toys, the softest beds. For their ultimate enjoyment and entertainment, those who love them, provide them with every luxury, especially cat trees. For this reason, cat trees (carpeted posts) are pure ecstasy for cats. The cats can race up and down the carpeted platform, even scratch the sides of the cat tree to their heartís contentÖ
But what happens when your pampered house cat suddenly finds herself outside? Frightened by a noise or chased up a dog, she races up a real tree? You can see her. You can hear her. Fluffy is now high overhead, clinging to a branch and you want her down now. She isnít budging. What do you do?
Here are some tips:
Buy a couple cans of canned dog food (loaf type) and some dry dog food . Get a paint scraper, or some sort of spatula to spread the food with. Fetch a ladder and crawl up the tree as high as you can go safely. Take the canned dog food spread it on the bark of the tree. Run it in a line all the way down to the ground if possible. Sprinkle the ground below with a large quantity of dry dog food. Why dog food? Dog food has a stronger odor than cat food does. Your cat is going to be overwhelmed with outdoor scents. You will need to overpower those scents with something tasty, to bring her back down to safety.
If the cat isnít up in the tree very high, get help. Find a neighbor or a friend with a flat-bed pickup truck. Have him back his truck up to the tree. Put a ladder in the bed of the pick-up truck. Have someone brace the ladder. Then climb up and fetch your cat.
If you have to fetch the cat up in the tree, protect yourself! I always read about how you need to take a pillowcase and put the cat in a pillowcase before coming down. Right! Have you ever tried to stuff a cat into a pillowcase that wasnít up in a tree? I canít imagine having to stuff a scared cat in a pillowcase while you are precariously hanging on to the trunk of the tree, so you donít fall.
Protect yourself. Wear long sleeve shirt(s) long pants, a hat, and good gripping gloves. If you have them, wear goggles. Grab the cat by the scruff of the neck bring her out to your side, keeping her tightly scruffed- donít drop her! And carefully start back down the ladder.
Plan on her fighting and squirming. She is going to be stressed and scared. She will use her weapons arsenal (teeth and claws) to try and free herself. Keeping her clutched tightly to your chest isnít an option unless you are wearing a Kevlar vest!
Call a tree-trimming service, or if you are in the country, a logging firm. Explain the situation to them and see if they offer ďcat retrieval services.Ē Many of them do this service for a small fee.
Your cat may jump down all on her own. Years ago, my gray tabby Gulliver climbed a 60 foot pine tree near our home. I stood underneath the tree, and spotted Gully way up high. I called him down with my special kitty call (my mealtime call). I thought he would climb down. Wrong! He jumped, right to me, landed on my face, neck and chest with his claws intact! He knocked me flat to the ground and then he raced to the house. He was uninjured. I wish I could claim the same! He nailed me pretty good.
Make sure the ground underneath where the cat will land is soft enough that if she jumps, she wonít get hurt. Drag out an old mattress, pile up leaves, bring out your dirty clothes and throw them on the ground. Hey, they are dirty anyway.
Sprinkle soiled kitty litter down on the ground for her. She smells a familiar scent she may just climb down on her own.
Take a laundry basket and a length of rope. Tie a small weight to one end of the rope and swing it up AWAY from where the cat is perched, but close enough she can reach it. Once you have snagged the rope around the branch and lowered it down, put some bedding and food in the laundry basket. Tie the rope to the basket and pull it up so it rests quite close to her. Then tie off the end. When she goes to get in the basket, gently lower her down until someone can snag her.
Sprinkle a lot of birdseed on the ground under the tree. Cover the area with it. I am not talking a small amount. You want to carpet the ground below with birdseed. I used this trick, when a feral cat was high in one of our trees. We left and watched out the window, and ten minutes later the birds were feasting, and here comes Cleo creeping down the tree! The catís prey response is pretty powerful.
Thereís a saying that crops up when cat owners are asking for help to get their cat out of a tree. ďYou never see a dead cat under a tree.Ē Although this is true, the people saying this are a bit ignorant when it comes to the health of a cat. Up in a tree, there is no food. If the cat is up in the tree 24 hours or better, she stands a real chance of developing some severe health issues; becoming dehydrated, over-heated, or hypothermic (depending on the weather) or developing health issues at a later date from little to no food.
Here are some things to avoid:
Unless you have an accommodating fire department, donít call them. They are not going to come out and spend valuable time climbing a tree to grab a scared cat.
You can call the local newspaper, but unless Fluffy is an unusual story, they arenít going to come out either.
You goal is to get this cat out of the tree and back on the ground as soon, and as safe as possible. If she is really high up, she wonít budge without your help. If anything, she might climb higher. Be careful what method you choose.
I have heard from people, who decided to spray their cat with water. The force of the water knocks the cat out of the tree. Depending on how the cat falls, sometimes the cat is injured. Some cats can endure these giant leaps, others are less fortunate.
So make a wise choice, when it comes to figuring out how to get your pampered cat out of a tree. Make the choice that leads to your cat surviving her first tree-hugging experience. Allow her to end up back in your home and safe. Not at the vets waiting for treatment.
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writersí Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.