Do Cats Really Get Stuck in Trees?

There’s a common cat behavior you used to read about a lot – cats getting stuck in trees and not being able to get down. Not ever having cats in my life, I can’t claim any knowledge or expertise in the situation, but I did my research and do have some tips and suggestions for cat parents.
First, conventional wisdom about cats has changed over the years and allowing your cats free access to the outdoors is becoming less and less common. We see more and more cats on leashes or totally restricted to indoors only. Not only does it prevent accidents for the cat – like getting stuck in a tree, it also saves a lot of wildlife.
small cat stuck in a tree
Having said that, many cat parents allow their cat to be outdoors and cats naturally climb trees. What you may not realize is they climb UP much more easily than they are able to climb down. Their claws curve down and are designed to hold their weight going up but to get down safely, they have to jump or climb down backwards. This contributes to the ‘getting stuck’ part of climbing trees – they don’t feel safe jumping down, or they realize they’ve climbed too high, and are fearful of attempting the climb down.
Many folks say just leave them there, they will come down when they are ready or when they get hungry. That may be true in some cases, but if they are truly frightened, they may get injured, suffer from dehydration or fall before they come down. So, what do you do?

It used to be you could call the fire department to come and rescue your cat. It’s probably only in small towns that the fire department provides that service anymore. But there are commercial companies that provide the service – TreeCat Rescue in Gainseville, FL is one such company and I’m sure there are more.


If you are attempting the rescue yourself, first and foremost, be patient, if your cat is truly ‘stuck’ they aren’t going to come down easily. Try coaxing them down either just softly calling them in your “it’s dinnertime” voice or try actually using dinner or their favorite treat to coax them down. If that doesn’t work, and you are physically able, get a ladder and climb up there yourself to grab them. It might be smart to bring a towel to wrap your cat in as they will be frightened and may resist. If all else fails, you can contact your local animal control for assistance.

Additional Readings
How To Get a Cat Down From a Tree
TreeCat Rescue
Do Cats Really Get Stuck in Trees?

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  1. Many years ago when we had outdoor cats, one of ours did indeed get stuck in a tree. If I remember correctly, my hubby had to borrow a long ladder from a neighbor and he was able to get him down that way, but it wasn’t easy.
    If a cat gets chased up a tree by a dog, that would make them even more reluctant to come down.
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  2. Yes, cats can get stuck…just like you say…they can get scared and won’t come down.
    The Island Cats recently posted…What’s That Wally Doing?My Profile

  3. Many years ago I witnessed the rescue of a neighbor’s cat from a tree- They called the fire department and they came with a big ladder. Just when the firefighter started climbing the ladder, the cat decided to come down on its own. Probably he was frightened with the apparatus and decided to jump down.
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