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How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree

By Stacy Painter
published: March 17, 2021 • 2 min. read
cat in a tree

Your cat (or someone else’s) appears to be stuck in a tall tree and refuses to make attempts to come down. What do you do? We’ll explain how cats get themselves into this type of predicament and how you can help them come back down.

Why do cats get stuck in trees?

Some cats particularly enjoy the views from up high and may see a tall tree as the perfect vantage point. Others may find themselves caught up in a tree after chasing prey such as a bird or squirrel, or they may have been chased up the tree by a dog.

Going up a tree is easy for a cat because their claws are shaped like hooks that make it easy to climb up. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy for them to get back down.


How to get a cat down from a tree

When it comes to getting a cat out of a tree, you have a few options:.

Wait it out

Before you try anything else, give the cat some time to try and come down on their own. In many cases, cats will do just that. Sometimes a cat will first cry and get their pet parents all worked up, and then come down on their own.

You can wait up to a full day before it’s time to try something else. However, you should seek help sooner than later if:

  • It’s a kitten
  • The cat is declawed
  • The cat is injured
  • It’s an indoor cat
  • There’s threat of a predator (like hawks, eagles, or owls)
  • The weather is creating poor conditions for a cat to stay out for very long


If the cat is content to sit in the tree, then they may not make attempts to come back down until they get hungry enough. You can encourage them to come down on their own by offering yummy (and especially smelly) food or treats. 

Make it easier for them to get down

Cats that are especially high up may be frightened to try coming back down. You can help make their descent less daunting by offering assistance. One suggestion is to lean a ladder against the tree – this may make it easier for the cat to come down.

For your safety and the cat’s, it’s important that you do not climb the ladder and try to rescue the cat. This puts you at risk of injuring yourself and/or the cat, as well as of scaring the cat further up the tree.

Call a professional

If it comes to this, then the first call you should make is to your local animal control department. They will be the best equipped to rescue an animal in need. Additionally, Cat in a Tree Rescue has a great list of resources by region with contact information.

Contrary to old folk tales, the fire department should not be your first call. Most fire departments do not rescue cats, and may not want to devote resources to animal rescues when a human rescue may be at stake.

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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