Here at Ostvig Tree Care, we are more than the basics of tree care. We enjoy discussing common occurrences that come with having trees, like answer questions why cats climb trees and what to do when a you see a cat atop the tree.
We all know this classic scenario: a neighborhood tabby is pretending she is feral, spots a bird and goes for it. Before you know it, a fire truck is at the scene—along with the rest of the neighborhood—and very soon, the cat is safely back on the ground. Okay, it might not play out like that much anymore, but the cat-in-the-tree scenario still happens on occasion and it’s important to know the best way to approach the situation.
There are many reasons that cats climb trees, but the main reason has to do with their predatory nature. This background affects many of their habits, even as domesticated animals.
As predators, cats like to understand their environment. They know that from a higher vantage point, they will have a better view of their surroundings. This allows them to spot potential dangers and prey.
Cats often nap in trees instinctively because it is out of the reach of other predators.
One of the most common reasons cats climb trees is to pursue other animals. When a domestic cat spots an inferior animal, such as a squirrel or bird, it’s instincts as a predator kick in. During this point in a chase, the cat may completely disregard its actions, in terms of the consequences of climbing a tall tree.
In many instances, cats can get down from the tree on their own; they might just be frightened or want to come down by choice (which is a common cat attitude). In instances where it appears as though the cat can’t get down on its own, it may be because of the shape of its claws. Since cat claws are curved inward, they are able to grasp and hook onto the trunk of a tree to climb up. However, the inward curve is a disadvantage when it’s time to come back down to ground level.
Your first instinct—or maybe you’ve been watching too many old movies or TV shows—may be to call the fire department. While we understand, as this cat may be a part of your family or a loving member of the neighborhood, we urge you to resist this instinct. Take a few cleansing breaths and follow these steps:
- Don’t panic
Panicking will only make it worse for you and the cat. Cats can sense anxiety and will be less likely to come down to you if you are perceived as a threat.
- Remove the distraction(s)
Try to pinpoint the reason the cat climbed the tree in (i.e. barking dog, anxious child, etc.) and remove the distraction from the scene (if possible.)
- Be patient
If it appears as though the cat can get down on its own, be patient and wait it out.
- Call for backup
If you need a professional to rescue the cat, it is best to call animal control, or a vet or nearby shelter.