Do cats REALLY get stuck in trees as often as it's portrayed on TV and in cartoons?
Recently a poor cat in Ireland was stuck in a 50-foot-tall tree for six days. Stranded near the top, the cat was meowing loudly and demonstrating signs of distress. The owner and local volunteers from the ISPCA (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) tried unsuccessfully to coax the kitty down.
They then called the local Tullow Fire Brigade, but their ladder couldn’t reach the distressed cat.
Finally, they enlisted the Lucas Tree Services to use a massive bucket lift truck to reach the cat and happily bring him to safety, effectively ending the six-day standoff.
So, Why Do Cats Climb Trees?
There are a number of reasons that a cat might climb a tree. First, as hunters, they might chase their prey up a tree without understanding what might happen when the chase is finished. They might climb too high if they feel threatened with danger from strangers, other animals, or loud machinery. Indoor and outdoor cats also like to have a high vantage point and might climb a tree just to be above their environment.
Why Don’t They Just Climb Down?
Cats naturally climb up, but usually jump down from furniture, trees, or other objects that they climb. If they get stuck, it probably means they are too scared to climb or jump down from where they are currently situated. Also, cats have curved claws that are purrfectly designed to climb up, but are then curved the wrong way to proficiently climb downward.
What To Do If They Do Get Stuck?
First, don’t panic. This won’t do anything to ease your cat's stress and it can cloud your logical thinking processes.
Next, try to entice the cat to come down with some strong-smelling food or treats. If this doesn’t work and only if you are physically able, climb up the tree to your cat and bring them down. Always have someone there to watch in case you need help.
If the tree isn’t too tall, you might be able to use some type of wood or other objects to create an incline or ramp that the cat could use the get down.
If all that fails, call a local animal shelter or rescue that might have some advice or could recommend a service such as a tree trimmer to help bring your cat down. As a last resort, you can call your local fire department.
If you're worried about your cats getting out and climbing up a tree, consider limiting your cat's time outdoors to walks on a leash or harness, which can be a great way to give your cat safe, secure time outdoors and plenty of exercise!
You could also provide your cats with a "catio," which is basically an outdoor enclosure (often a screened-in patio) that provides your cats with outdoor enrichment while still safe at home.
Photo by Eileenmak, Flickr, Creative Commons
And if your cat is an avid climber, be sure to fill the catio with a cat tree so they can safely scale the heights!