Tree surgeons get called out to all kinds of different jobs – and sometimes we’re called out when a cat is found stranded at the top of a tree, and all else has failed! Here we take a look at why cats can get stuck up trees, and provide some tips on how to go about getting them safely back down to the ground.

Why do cats get stuck up trees?

Cats usually climb too high into trees because they are being chased by dogs or because something else has frightened them. If they are left quietly for a time, they will almost always make their own way back down when they feel safe. They will not willingly come down if people, especially strangers, congregate on the ground below to try and entice or cajole them down, or worse, climb up after them. They need to feel safe to make their own way down.

A cat stuck up a tree

Try setting up a step ladder first

Depending on the circumstances a step ladder placed under the tree might help a cat to descend on its own by providing a safe platform, or some water and cat treats on the ground nearby. 

A ginger cat in a tree

What not to do!

  • If the cat does seem genuinely unable to climb down, whatever you do, do not get a ladder and attempt to reach the cat yourself. Ladders can easily slip causing serious injury. Even if you manage to grab the cat, controlling a struggling, biting and scratching bundle is not safe as you try to descend, either for you or the cat.
  • Do not try to force the cat down with a hosepipe as it could cause serious injury to the cat. In South West London many trees are adjacent to or overhang busy roads and a frightened cat could be the cause of a serious traffic accident.
  • Do not attempt to climb the tree! Professional tree surgeons have ropes, harnesses and friction devices to enable them to climb safely into a tree. In addition, tree surgeons also have access to cherry pickers which would enable them to reach the top of the tree safely, where climbing it is inadvisable.

Can the RSPCA help with a cat stuck in a tree?

The RSPCA have upwards of 100,000 enquiries a year concerning cats trapped in trees and advise people to contact them first before calling the Fire and Rescue services. Where the RSPCA are unable to effect a rescue and where the cat is inextricably trapped, sick or injured the RSPCA will contact the rescue services themselves although they are not legally obliged to attend. Before calling for professional help the RSPCA advise waiting at least twenty-four hours to see if the cat will come down on its own. After all, when was the last time you saw a cat’s skeleton up a tree?

Can the fire brigade help?

The Fire and Rescue services often require a referral from the RSPCA before they will divert resources to rescuing a cat from a tree, unless they feel it might be useful as a training exercise. If the rescue involves possible danger to human life or working at heights, Health and Safety requirements state that fully trained climbers should be called. In most instances, this will be a team of tree surgeons. Tree surgeons have the necessary expertise and equipment to climb most trees.

Can a tree surgeon help get my cat down from a tree?

It is unlikely that tree surgeons would be the first responders to a cat rescue, but would attend if called by the RSPCA or The Fire and Rescue Service. If all else fails, tree surgeons have all the necessary skills and equipment to return your cat home safe and sound. 

A cat sleeping happily after being rescued from a tree

Take A Bough Tree Care

If you are in South West London and require the services of an experienced team of tree surgeons, give us a call by clicking above, or complete our contact form so we can get back to you about providing a free quotation for all your tree work – we will be very happy to hear from you!

Written by

Toby Douglas is the founder of Take A Bough Tree Care. After university in Aberystwyth, Toby made the decision to study Arboriculture at Merrist Wood, in Surrey. In 2001 he successfully completed a National Certificate in Horticulture, and a National Diploma in Arboriculture, then worked for two years subcontracting to large and respected companies in order to gain the practical experience to compete successfully for both private and corporate contacts once Take a Bough Tree Care was launched

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