8 Easy Steps To Get A Cat Out Of A Tree Safely

Some cats are adventurous, independent creatures, but this can backfire when they end up in tall trees and struggle to get back down again. It is natural for pet owners to panic in this situation, fearing that a stuck kitty will get ill, fall out the tree, or even starve up there. So, how can you get a cat out of a tree safely and effectively?

What Are The Best Ways To Get A Cat Out Of A Tree?

There is no single, simple answer on how to get cats out of trees. It is important to remember that the best approach will depend on a range of variables about the animal and the situation. With that said, it is always best to take a calm, measured approach that is as stress-free as possible for the cat. Where possible, give the cat time to come down on its own. If it won’t, or physically can’t, you can then consider these important points for an effective rescue.

  1. It is often best if you climb up into the tree yourself so your cat sees a familiar and friendly face.
  2. Make sure that you have a secure ladder that is tall enough to reach your cat’s location.
  3. Get help from family and friends to hold the ladder and anything else that you need.
  4. Use a cat carrier to transport your cat out of the tree – preferably one that they are comfortable using.
  5. Be patient and positive at all times to coax your cat into the carrier.
  6. Comfort items and treats inside the carrier can offer further incentivization too.
  7. Consider having extra people underneath the tree with a blanket in case your cat falls.
  8. If your cat won’t comply on the first attempt, come back tomorrow. They will either survive the night up there or choose to come down themselves.

ProTip.Try using a laser pointer to engage your cat in a game and make it slowly go down. This way you may be able to sidetrack a cat into coming down from the tree to chase that red dot.

When considering what to do in these situations, it is also important to remember what not to do.

  1. Don’t try and force your cat into a carrier if he is unwilling or scared, it might jump down and get hurt.
  2. Don’t go up the tree if it will put you at risk.
  3. Don’t try and carry your cat down the ladder without a carrier.
  4. Don’t leave food at the bottom of the tree as this could attract harmful predators.
  5. Don’t involve the fire service unless it is essential.
  6. Don’t scold or punish the cat for going up there.

Will A Cat Come Down From A Tree On Its Own?

This is one of the most important things to remember when it comes to getting cats out of trees. A lot of the time, your cat will stay up a tree because they feel safe at that moment. There are many reasons why cats will stay up a tree. For example:

  • they aren’t in any rush because they have just eaten and a perfectly comfortable right now
  • they haven’t yet figured out the best way down
  • they are concerned about a threat at the bottom of the tree
  • they haven’t yet been given a good enough incentive to come back down

Eventually, when your cat decides that it is hungry and wants to come inside, it will probably make more of an effort to find a way down. You might then realize that they weren’t “stuck” up there at all. Others may not do so until they are sure there is no threat. Perhaps they were chased up there by a wild animal or feral cat? Some reassurance and guidance can help.

However, there will be times when cats aren’t comfortable enough to attempt the backward descent down the tree. They may also have gone too high to jump down or to jump to another structure or branch. This is when you will need to intervene and help them out.

Can You Call 911 For A Cat In A Tree?

You can, but it’s not the best idea unless there is a massive emergency. There is that romantic notion that your friendly neighborhood fire crew will come to your property, rescue your kitty, and it is happy-ever-after. The truth is that the fire crew might not be too happy about getting called out for a non-emergency, especially when they could be back at the firehouse awaiting a call for a fire or other major incident. They can help when cats are truly stuck and all else fails, particularly in really big trees. However, this should be a last resort.

Who Can Help Get A Cat Out Of A Tree?

You have a few options here. You can:

  1. call for professional help.  
  2. call on friends and neighbors.
  3. do it as a family.

What you can do yourself to get your cat back to safety? After all, you are the human that your cat trusts the most and the one that can provide the most reassurance. Any cats that went up the tree through fear must realize that it is safe for them to come back down – if they can do so. You and your family can devise a strategy to coax them down, or even to get into the tree if it isn’t too tall.

With this in mind, you can perhaps call on friends and neighbors to provide support and equipment where necessary. Perhaps you know someone with a really sturdy and tall ladder that is perfect for climbing up the tree. Perhaps you can find some extra helpers to hold a sheet beneath the tree and catch the cat in case it jumps or falls. More on that potential situation later.

Or, you can call an animal rescue organization. catinatreerescue.com  has a great directory for each state with a list of professionals who cat help your cat. This is the best option for cat owners that want quick and professional help without calling 911. Animal rescuers have all the best tools at their disposal to handle all kinds of situations where animals end up in strange places. So, they are sure to be able to determine a strategy that is efficient and cat-friendly. Their cat-loving nature and experience also mean they will be able to handle the animal if it is scared and confused. Also, this is a primary emergency in their eyes, so they should be far more willing to help than the fire service.

How much does it cost to get a cat out of a tree?

The good news here is that the fire service shouldn’t charge for this sort of rescue, and many animal rescue services won’t either. However, there are still some organizations that will charge around $50 to $75 for their efforts. Be prepared for this.

How High Can Cats Fall?

This is a common concern for any cat owner whose pet can’t climb back down the tree. Cats that try and fail may fall or try and jump to a play of safety and miss. This leads to the potential for injuries. Cats may have that clever ability to land on their feet, but there is a risk of injury from a high height. While there are tales of cats falling 32 stories and surviving, a bad landing could lead to broken bones and internal injuries. Cats can usually jump/fall roughly 8 feet without the risk of getting injured.

How Long Can A Cat Be Stuck In A Tree?

So far, the best advice here has been to give your cat time to come down when they feel safe and to only call for professional help if they show no sign of coming down. This makes sense because it is easy for frantic cat owners to get the wrong impression of the situation. Also, there is no need to stress a cat out with strangers and equipment if it isn’t necessary. Still, there has to be a point where you give up and call in the pros.

There are reports of cats surviving for weeks in trees off of moisture from their fur or the branches. But, prolonged exposure and a lack of food are very dangerous. They can end up sick and malnourished. If your cat hasn’t come down and shows no sign of figuring out a way down after 24 hours, you can start to plan your own rescue strategy. If this fails, and you haven’t been able to entice your cat into trying a route down, you should then call in animal rescue. If animal rescue can’t help, then they can bring in the fire service.

How Do You Stop A Cat From Climbing A Tree?

Finally, let’s consider preventative tactics to stop cats from climbing up trees. There isn’t much that you can do if you have an outside cat that is quite independent and strays away from your property. If, however, your cat stays on your property, you could make modifications around the base of your trees or put cats on a leash when they are outside. It is up to you whether these measures are a benefit or a detriment.


In short, the best way to get a cat out of a tree is to be calm and patient. Give them the time they need to realize that it is safe to come down and that you will help them do so. They may well come down on their own after a day. If not, come together as a family with a ladder and cat carrier and coax them down.