What To Do When Your Cat is Stuck in a Tree

To you, that beautiful 30-year-old elm tree in your front yard may look like a charming landscaping accent and surefire way to guarantee resale value for your home.

By The Editors, MyPetHealthGuide.com

But your cat doesn’t need to hear it from a realtor. She already knows—location, location, location. To your kitty, that tree is one big aerial playground full of birds to ogle from atop the world’s biggest scratching post.

What to do when you can’t find your pet

Whether she’s compelled by curiosity or propelled by fear, kitty may find herself up a tree and you may find yourself at a loss.

If your cat trees herself, here’s what you can do to bring her down to earth…

Get the 411
Determine whether or not the cat is injured. Depending on the height of the tree you may want to get out the binoculars. If you don’t see any blood and she’s moving around, that’s a good indication that she’s not injured.

…Not the 911
Numerous anecdotal references tell us that if your cat is up a tree, call the fire department. While the unfurling of a full hook-and ladder apparatus provides a fun show for the neighborhood, the truth is the noise and commotion of the spectacle could actually drive the scared cat even further up the branches and out of reach.

Hang In There, Baby
Stay calm and call her name, and make sure she knows it’s you. Try to keep the activity around her low so she won’t be more anxious about her return trip.

Paws to Yourself
Don’t throw anything at the cat or try to reach at it with a pole or long stick. This will just scare her more.

Sweet Smell of Egress
Put out a can of her favorite, most aromatic food. A can of tuna will probably do the trick, but if you’re really concerned, you may want to break out that can of Alaskan Sockeye to tempt her down.

Fluffer Knows Best
Be patient and leave her alone. She’s probably more resourceful than you think.

Cover Your Bases
If you decide that you really do need to go up after her, be sure to be fully clothed in long sleeves and long pants, and bring a substantial blanket to wrap her in. She may be remembering whatever drove her up that tree in the first place and probably isn’t too happy about coming down. Even the sweetest, most loving family pet can turn vicious when she’s scared.


Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Joann, please be realistic enough to realize that your cat isn't the only one "out there", so are you actually thinking that wildlife is going to be safer? A cat normally won't take on a possum, since they are as large as a cat and yes, they have some pretty long and sharp claws of their own. They just move a lot slower.

Joanne R.
Jo Roberts6 years ago

As a carer of injured and orphaned native animals it is horrible to see what damage a cat can do. I have a cat but he is kept indoors for his own safety and for the well being of all possums and birds that call my yard home. I am a cat lover but also want the other animals in my life to have the chance to thrive and survive as well.

Shirley E.
Shirley E6 years ago

If they can get up, they can get down, honestly. It's just that sometimes they choose to stay up out of embarrassment. They heard the birdsong and climbed up thinking it'd be dead easy to catch a meal, then the darned thing flew off just as it arrived. They feel so silly they just need time to live it down.

Nina Anghel
Nina Anghel6 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago

cats usually get themselves down when they decide they'd rather be elsewhere.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Suzanne, it doesn't seem to matter if a cat was born inside or not, and of my 5 cats, most WERE born outside, but two have decided they want to be inside cats WHEN it suits them, but Heaven Forbid if they are prevented from going out when they WANT to. They ALL seem attracted to the roof of my house, and I get anxious about them not coming down when it gets dark because there are predators where I live, including large owls and coyotes. One of the outside cats would dearly LOVE to trade places with the inside cats, but not going to happen. She's a full sister to one of the "inside" cats that WANTS to be outside, so it seems to be an individual thing.

I've tried to provide the needs for the inside cats to satisfy their urge to climb, scratch and be "above" everything, and while I do have a "kitty condo" that goes to the ceiling of my house, four carpeted "platforms" and baskets and the pole covered with sisal rope, they still will go out and climb trees and go to the roof. It's instinctive.

Jamie J.
Jamie J.6 years ago

Please DO NOT under any circumstance climb up the tree yourself! Our very healthy, young, adult relative did so after the cat had been there for 2 days. He slipped & fell, suffered a spinal cord injury & is paralized.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

I used to get one of my aunt's cats down off her roof about once a week. The cat used to go up on the roof to get away from the rest of my aunt's cats because they bullied her.

Thomas O.
Thomas O6 years ago

At present I share my home and property with 10 cats. All are rescued from something or other (like a couple of ferals that have become the sweetest and easiest of all, but will NOT come inside the house). They all climb the MANY trees on my property--some from the time they were kittens. I used to freak out, get ladders, almost kill myself. Well, let me tell you something-- they were probably laughing at me. Whether sturdy oak, dense-leaved maple, fragile birch-- they come down on their own. The smartest turn around, and just back down using those marvelous claws. The not too smart try going down front first and have a bit of a scary journey (but that doesn't keep them grounded; they are up again when the mood suits). So, although I still get a bit of a chill when they are WAY up to the sky, and begin wondering if I will have to climb the tree myself to get 'em, I know they will come down when THEY decide to do so.
P.S. Can't get to your page 2, by the way, so have no idea what your rescue operation consists of.

Suzanne Hall
Suzanne Hall6 years ago

I have several cats, and they are all indoor cats! Got one from the shelter, don't know if she was indoor or outdoor, but she has never showed any indication that she wanted to go outside. I have another that was a stray and adopted me, she liked my outdoor food bowl. She also gave me 5 kittens, lucky me. Three of which I still have. They have never been outside, and their mother does not want to go back outside. The last kitty I have was also a stray, who I fed outside for a couple years. Never showed any indication she wanted inside, and she was healthy, so I just fed her. One fall she decided she wanted to come inside, so got her in the carrier and off to the vet we went. That was several years ago. She also shows no signs of wanting to go outside again. They are warm in winter, cool in summer, have full tummies, me to do their bidding, and many many toys and a huge scratching/climbing tree. They have the run of the house, and they purr constantly. I hope they're happy, but they'll never go outside.