small cat stuck in a tree

The truth is that most cats will need your help getting down from trees

Can cats get down from trees as easily as they go up?

The quick answer is NO

Author, Dorinne Whynott, Owner of Professional Pet Sitting Etc.


MYTH – cats will come down when they get hungry
FALSE – if cats are not too high up then yes cats may come down when they are hungry.  However, if cats are too high up, they can not get themselves down safely

Many people say – Cats will get down on their own, have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree……..

Well, unfortunately, once the cat becomes weak and dehydrated, they will mostly likely fall out of the tree, injuring or killing them from the fall.

Cats get stuck in trees generally to get away from a dog or wildlife that is chasing them and your cat felt threatened.

Cats’ nails are made for them to go forward and UP, they are NOT made for them to go forward and down.

Cats do NOT climb down backwards. It is just not natural for them to do so. There is a cat every now and then that may figure it out and come down backwards, but it is rare.

If they are only about 10 – 15 feet up, the cat can most likely jump down. Higher then that and cats may get injured. Many cats have suffered broken bones and death from falling from great heights.

If there are tree limbs that are close together that a cat can easily use as a ladder, they may come down when everything is safe and quiet.

If a cat has not come down in 6-8 hours, then you will need to intervene.


NEVER let your cat stay up in a tree for longer then 24 hours.  Many cats have died trying to get out of a very high tree themselves.  Many cats will become severely dehydrated and weak and may fall to their death.  Many cats organs will start shutting down from severe dehydration

The longer your cat is in the tree without food and water, the weaker and dehydrated they will be. It will be worse if the weather is very cold, very hot, or if it is snowing or raining. All of these conditions will deteriorate your cat’s health and ability to get them self down safely



The very best thing to do is prepare for what may happen.

Make sure that your cat is in the VERY best health regardless if inside only or cats that are allowed outside.  


Cats that are allowed to go OUTSIDE unsupervised are at the greatest risk for contracting diseases like rabies and distemper, parasites, tick born diseases, heartworm and more.  They are also most likely to be harmed or killed by wildlife, other cats, dogs, people, cars and so much more.  

The ONE important thing you can do for your OUTSIDE CAT besides keeping him safe inside and only going out with you, is to get them a full check up, physical, parasite check and vaccines every year.


Cats that are INSIDE only or only go outside on harness and leash are less susceptible to all of the harmful things a cat allowed outside will face.  However, they should always be up to date on vaccines and as healthy as possible. Inside cats are susceptible to Distemper (includes all upper respiratory diseases) which is airborn and can be contracted through open windows and doors from an infected cat that is outside your home.  

Here is more on vaccines –


Keep in mind that if your cat, inside OR outside were ever to bite someone for ANY reason, if they were outside and were suspected of having rabies OR came in contact with wildlife/other animal that may have rabies, the cat may be put down and tested for rabies for the health of the person bit.  This includes any person rescuing your cat.


So, what to do if you cat does get stuck up a tree……


Do not panic, you want to stay calm to keep your kitty calm.

Make sure that the area is safe and quiet.

Make sure there are no dogs or other animals around.

Make sure that whatever threatened them is completely gone.

Have everyone go inside.

Have only the cat’s favorite person outside, calling the cat’s name to coax them down.

Try a laser pointer, if your cat us not too far up (10 feet or less). Make sure your cat sees the red dot and then move the pointer in the path of the easiest way for your cat to come down, in hope that your cat will follow the pointer.

You can try placing their favorite food at the base of the tree or jingle the treat can and place treats at the base. Make sure your cat sees you do this, then go inside and watch

All this time, it is important to make sure to keep area quiet and safe while you are inside.

Give your cat a few hours to try to come down if they are not too far up.

If far up, secure a ladder as close to your cat as possible to give your cat an easy way to come down. Make sure the ladder does not move at all or your cat may not feel safe to use.



While you are waiting inside, keep an eye on your cat to see if they are trying to get down. Make sure to keep the area safe and quiet for your cat.  If your cat feels threatened in any way, they will NOT move.

Now is the time to Call around to see if there is anyone who may be able to help.
Some fire departments will help, Some tree companies will help, some professional tree climbers will help.

Post on social media, you never know what is out there. However, be aware that everyone will have an opinion, many not so helpful.  You are in a vulnerable state worried about your cat and do not need negativity. 

Ask on social media if anyone can help – people with equipment like cherry pickers, bucket loaders, etc.

If the tree is in an area where no vehicles can go, you may need someone who is an experienced tree climber, hopefully, they are willing to help.  They will have safety equipment to get up there and down. 

Keep in mind, If your cat is way up the tree, having someone get close to your cat, climbing up a ladder may scare your cat. If your cat feels threatened, they may go higher up the tree or jump from great heights.

Placing cushions, mattresses or having 4-5 people holding heavy blankets underneath to catch your cat if they jump or fall, will help to alleviate injuries.

Even the nicest cat may sometimes feel very scared with all this activity and after being chased up the tree. So be prepared that your cat may scratch and/or bite the rescuer (even YOU).

Clothing and Gloves

Wear long sleeves, heavy shirt or coat, double thick leather gloves. If you are lucky enough to find someone with professional bite gloves, they are the best protection.

Some cats are so scared, they can fight their rescuer all the way down, making it unsafe for both cat and rescuer.

Please take as many precautions as possible for safety. Have people down below holding ladders to keep rescuer safe and blankets and cushions to catch your cat if they fall.

THIS is where it is IMPORTANT for your cat is up to date on rabies vaccine to protect everyone just in case.

Cat Carriers

To keep you and your cat safe, in some cases, bringing a cat carrier up and placing your cat inside maybe easier then just carrying your cat down. Make sure that ALL cat carriers are reinforced.  DO NOT try to lower a cat with a cat carrier’s handle.  These handles are known to break.  Do NOT rely on the cat carrier’s closures that keep the top and bottom together, they are known to let go.  Instead, wrap the carrier in some sturdy tie downs and secure to the carrier so that the carrier can not slip out in anyway.  

Pillow Case

Using a pillow case with a way to close and secure the top after the cat is inside may be useful

A Professional Rescue Net 

If you are lucky enough to find a rescue or someone with a professional rescue net.  These can get a cat in and secure to lower cats down to safety.



Once on the ground, bring your cat inside, let them calm down. Check them over for any injuries.

It is advised to ALWAYS bring your cat to the vet for a full checkup. 

Especially if your cat was in a tree without food and water for more then 24 hours.

If they were chased, they could have been bitten by another animal or if they were hit by a car, they may have fled up a tree in fear.

MANY injuries YOU will NOT see

If you notice anything or notice your cat wincing, they may be in pain, please bring to a vet now, internal injuries that you can not see can be deadly.

Hopefully, this ordeal had a very happy ending for you and your cat and you both will not have to go through this again.





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About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc

Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional.  She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History. 

Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010.  It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH.  Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook pageGoogle+ page and more.  They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.

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