Increasingly people are keeping cats indoors only. More than 65 percent of the feline population never goes outside, according to the American Pet Products Association. But that still leaves millions of cats who go outdoors, and cats being cats, some will climb trees in search of the highest vantage point in the neighborhood, to escape a predator, or maybe in pursuit of prey.
The problem for cats isn’t so much going up; they’re very good at that. Between their claws, which allow them to grip and pull themselves upward, and their powerful leg muscles, which propel them higher, they can find themselves in the treetops rapidly.
But getting down again? That can be a problem. The claws that helped them climb up aren’t so good for going down headfirst. And it’s the rare cat who’s brave enough or ingenious enough to back down butt first.
So, what do you do if your cat is up a tree? Shake him loose, and hope he survives the fall?
That’s never a good idea! Cats are known to survive falls from great heights (known as high-rise syndrome), but they still run the risk of broken bones or other injuries.
Call the fire department?
Unless you get Sarah, the Mayberry operator, you’ll likely hear the bemused response, “Are you kidding?” If you do persuade emergency personnel or a tree-trimming company to respond, there may be a fee.
The best advice: Be patient. Veterinary clinics rarely report treating cats who have fallen from trees. Emergency rooms, however, do treat people who have fallen from trees as they try to rescue feline friends. Instead, rely on your cat’s fantastic sense of smell. Entice kitty with a plate of tuna or salmon left at the base of the tree and wait for hunger to overcome fear.
Or keep your cat indoors in the first place with a ceiling-high cat tree to meet her climbing desires.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.