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How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree: 5 Vet-Approved Methods

Written by: Emma Stenhouse

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

black cat in the tree

How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree: 5 Vet-Approved Methods


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Some cats seem to have a talent for getting themselves into trouble, and plenty of cats manage to get themselves stuck in trees. Cats might seem like athletic and talented climbers, and while most of them are great at going up trees, getting down can be more of a challenge.

The good news is that we have five tried-and-tested methods for getting cats out of trees!

cat paw divider

Why Do Cats Get Stuck in Trees?

Once a cat’s claws are extended, they’re designed to pull your cat forward. So while cats can whiz up a tree in a matter of seconds, it’s much more of a challenge for them to get back down. Some cats will reverse back down, but they’ll usually only try this if they’re still climbing the tree trunk rather than sitting on a branch.

It can be worrying when your cat has gotten themselves stuck in a tree, and some cats will loudly protest until the entire neighborhood has come to see what’s up! Luckily, there are a few methods that you can use to encourage your cat back to ground level.

The 5 Methods on How to Get a Cat Out of a Tree

1. Place Strongly Scented Food at the Base of the Tree

The first method we recommend trying is using a strongly scented food to lure your cat down the tree. Tuna canned cat food is a good option, or you can even use regular canned tuna. If you know that your cat prefers another flavor, try that instead. Place a bowl of the food at the base of the tree, and leave it for a while to see if the cat will come down to investigate. Make sure any other animals are kept out of the area, or they’ll probably eat the food instead!

You can try smearing a little food higher up into the branches, to encourage your cat to move toward the trunk as well.

grey cat in the tree
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Lean a Ladder on the Trunk of the Tree

If you have a long ladder, you can lean this against the tree trunk. Either climb up the ladder yourself and try to lure the cat toward you using a container of treats that you can shake, or leave the ladder in place and give them time to figure out the problem by themselves. Some cats will use the ladder to climb down.

If your cat comes toward you while you’re standing on the ladder, you may be able to pick them up and carry them down. If you’re going to try this approach, we recommend wearing thick gloves and long sleeves, as even the most placid cats may panic as you pick them up.

3. Use a Laser Pointer

If you have a playful cat, then using a lure to encourage them to move toward the trunk of the tree can help persuade them to come down. A laser pointer is a good choice because no matter how high the tree is, the laser will be able to reach the branch that your cat is on. Just be careful to avoid shining it in your cat’s eyes. If the tree is shorter, you may be able to use a toy on a wand and throw it onto the branch before pulling it away from your cat.

Once your cat has locked onto their target, move the laser or toy toward where you want your cat to go. Some cats will follow the toy toward the trunk and then build up the confidence to get down!

cat in the tree
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Let Them Come Down On Their Own Time

Some cats just need a bit of time to figure out how to get out of a tree on their own. Cats who are shy or timid may not like the attention of people trying to help them and would rather stay in the tree until they feel safer.

In this instance, it can be a good idea to leave tasty food at the base of the tree, and keep an eye on your cat from a distance. As they get hungry and bored, they may decide to get down of their own accord.

5. Call for Assistance

cat climbing down the tree
Image By: Pixabay

If your cat has been stuck in a tree for more than 24 hours, it may be time to call for assistance. Your best bet to start will be animal control officials from a local rescue.

Most fire departments don’t have the time to respond to rescue calls for cats anymore, but if you live in a rural area or there are no other emergency calls, you may get lucky.

Another option is to call local arborists. They’re experienced in climbing trees safely and have all the necessary safety equipment. You should expect to pay a fee for their time, but if they successfully get your cat down, it’ll be worth it!


Wrapping It Up

Once you’ve got your cat safely down from the tree, check them over for any signs of injuries. If your cat is allowed outdoors, you may want to keep them indoors overnight to make sure they rest. If your indoor cat got outdoors and ended up a tree, make sure you figure out how they escaped and secure any escape options so it doesn’t happen again! If you’ve got any other tips for getting a cat out of a tree, we’d love to hear them!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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