…how to help them get down from above.
Cats are great climbers. Their flexible frames, sharp claws and powerful muscles enable them to scale the highest tree with speed and agility. Getting down, however, is another matter. Cats’ claws are designed to haul the cat upwards, but not back down.
Most cats are able to get down from trees and other high places on their own. Cats stuck in trees often find a way to jump down from limb to limb until they are close enough to the ground to make that final leap. Even a cat that ends up on the roof of a house can find its way down the same way he got up.
Cats who jump up to high places in their homes, such as atop kitchen cabinets or on the top of tall furniture, will get down the same way they got there—by jumping from a lower surface.
While adult cats know from experience how to get down from high places, kittens haven’t figured it out yet. It’s usually kittens that end up in trouble, howling miserably from the top of a tree, begging for help.
If your cat or someone else’s appears to be stuck in a tree or other high place, here are some things you can do to help him get down:
Try coaxing. A cat who is afraid to try coming down might just need a little encouragement. Call the kitty and reassure him that he can come to you. He might just decide to go for it.
- Offer food. Some cats might appear to be trapped, but in reality they just haven’t found a good enough reason to come down. Others are genuinely afraid to make the jumps required to get them back down to earth. In both these situations, hunger can be your friend. Over time, the cat’s desire for food will outweigh his enjoyment of being high up or his fear of coming down. Take advantage of this by placing a bowl of something really yummy at the base of the tree or other object (tuna is good because the cat might even get a whiff of it), and call him. If the cat is hungry enough, he will probably attempt to come down.
Wait. If attempts at coaxing and bribing down work, give the cat some time. He will probably get sick of being up there and will attempt to come down. It might take a day or more before he gets desperate enough. Keep an eye on him and continue offering encouragement and food.
- Call for help. If the cat has been stuck in the high place for more than a day and seems genuinely distressed, call your local animal control agency. They may be willing to come and help you. They may even get the fire department involved to send a ladder up to your cat, just like in the old days. You could also call an arborist—aka tree service provider; many have helped owners retrieve their cats from tall trees.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/