Why do cats get stuck in trees?

It is not uncommon for a cat to get stuck in a tree after attempting the climb. In this case, it tends to start meowing to be picked up… But why do cats climb so high in the trees if they are not able to come down? Isn’t that contrary to the survival instinct? 

When going up is easy and going down is impossible

Most often, when cats climb trees, it is to escape danger: a dog chasing them, a noise that has frightened them… But it can also be for fun, like chasing prey or quite simply to get to a high vantage point so they can get a clear view of their surroundings. Indeed, our feline friends love to gain height. This allows them to be able to observe without being seen and therefore to feel more secure.

Cats climb trees so easily because of their backward- curving claws. Indeed, the latter are designed to take them in one direction: forward. On the other hand, to descend, they are not of much help to them since they then point upwards.

In fact, for a cat to be able to climb down a tree safely, it would have to have its buttocks down. However, not only do cats find it difficult to coordinate their front and rear paws to back up, but this position is not instinctive for them.

Thus, they prefer to try to descend in a more natural, and therefore less frightening way, i.e. head first. And, of course, it doesn’t work.

However, some cats manage to do this, especially if they start to feel (very) hungry. Here is the video of a cat who figured out how to get down from a tree:

How to help a cat stuck in a tree

Even if cats tend, after several hours, to understand how to get down from a tree, some are too weak, too dehydrated, even too fearful to try the experiment. Then you have to go find them.

Before deciding anything, try everything for everything: place at the foot of the tree a particularly fragrant and tasty food (such as ham or cat food). If the feline still cannot get down, and it is not too high, try to offer it a solid board that will act as a ramp to facilitate the descent.

Finally, if nothing works, you can call on the refuge closest to your home, which can give you advice, or get closer to a company of rope access technicians, for example. In any case, there is no point in calling the fire department, they have not intervened in this type of situation for a long time.

Good to know: if you decide to climb the tree yourself using a ladder, be extremely careful. Belay yourself with a rope and ask one or more people to help you in your mission. In addition, as a safety measure, it is better for someone who knows the cat to go and rescue it, this will avoid frightening it even more and pushing it to scratch, bite, or even jump into the void.

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