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You can’t call the fire department anymore.

By Austin Cannon
November 30, 2020
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grey cat stuck in tree
Credit: FellowNeko / Adobe Stock

We all love spending the holidays with our pets, but a Rochester, New York, family may have reached their max after exhausting almost all of their Thanksgiving trying to coax their cat down from a tree. 

According to WHEC, the family woke up to find their feline friend named Flock in a nearby tree, and spent the next 18 hours trying to get him down. They called the Rochester Fire Department for help, but firefighters told them they don’t respond to cat rescue calls anymore because they need to be on call to save us humans. So one of the cat’s owners decided to retrieve the cat and—you’re not gonna believe this—got stuck in the tree himself. 

It may have been a harrowing experience for human and cat alike, but that did get the fire department to come out with their long ladder to retrieve the pair. Firefighters got the man safely back to the ground and stuck around to retrieve Flock, too.   

"They did rescue the guy, and we asked them could you please get the cat as well," neighbor Moseveanna Camp told WHEC. "They came and they saw how high the cat was. They struggled for a little bit but were able to get them thankfully—and I'm very thankful for the fire department that did that."

If you’re wondering if there's a safe way to get your cat down from a tree—without needing rescue yourself—there are some things to consider if you find yourself in a situation like Flock: 

  • Cat claws are great for climbing up, but they’re not suited for getting down from a tree. Shaun Sears of Canopy Cat Rescue tells KUOW that cats will climb upwards until they feel safe only to realize they’re stuck up high. The only way for them to get down is to climb down backwards, which isn’t an appealing option.
  • Cats who find themselves out on a limb can survive in trees for a while, up to two weeks, Sears says. Your cats might come down on their own, but don’t wait too long to take action.
  • Don’t leave out food, Sears tells KUOW. That’s a good way to attract other animals—potentially predators—and reinforce your cat’s decision to climb up the tree.

If you have a sturdy ladder and the tree isn’t too high—fewer than 20 feet, Sears says—you can climb up the tree and try to rescue the stuck cat yourself. Just make sure there aren’t any nearby power lines and ensure the help of a friend or neighbor who can help keep the ladder sturdy for you.

Another option Sears recommends: Tie a rope to a rock or ball to the end of a rope and throw the ball over a limb near your cat. Then fasten the rope to your cat carrier and hoist it on up there. If your kitty is comfortable with her crate, she may climb into the carrier and you can safely, slowly lower her down. Just be extra careful where you're tossing the rope, since you don't want to accidentally harm your feline friend.