Very recently, the Tulsa Fire Department was called in because of a cat as well as a cat owner. Apparently, what had happened was that the cat had gotten stuck in a tree. Rather than call for assistance, the cat owner made his own rescue attempt by climbing up, with the result that he got stuck as well. Fortunately, the Tulsa Fire Department managed to get everyone back onto the ground without injury.
What Causes These Cases Anyways?
It isn’t uncommon for cats to get stuck in trees. Yes, the species is quite good at climbing trees, so much so that it is sometimes called arboreal in nature. However, it is perfectly possible for cats to be poor climbers for a wide range of reasons. For example, a cat might be in poor physical condition, which is particularly common because being overweight is such a widespread issue. Similarly, a cat might have either no or next-to-no experience with climbing, meaning that they might not have a clear idea of what they can and cannot do.
Besides this, it is important to remember that even the best climbers can still wind up in a situation that they can’t get themselves out of. After all, while a cat’s claws are great for climbing up, they are not so great for climbing down. Thanks to this, there are plenty of examples of cats that have climbed up too high for them to climb down on their own. Sometimes, this happens because the cat has overestimated their own capabilities. Other times, well, suffice to say that cats don’t always climb up because they want to. For instance, cats like to climb up when they believe themselves to be under threat, meaning that they sometimes climb up too high because they are more concerned about avoiding an immediate threat than avoiding a future threat that may or may not come to be.
Of course, this can include situations in which cats either can’t or won’t make use of their famous ability to land on their feet. Said ability is very real, which makes sense considering how much time the species spent in either trees or other high-up places. After all, being high-up means an increased chance of falling from high-up, which in turn, means that there is a selection for traits that help them survive such situations. For example, cats have strong legs that serve well as shock absorbers. Similarly, cats are actually capable of righting themselves while they are in the process of falling, which is rather remarkble considering that they have so little to work with in such moments. On top of this, cats can choose to land with their limbs spread out rather than on their limbs, which serves a couple of important purposes when they are falling from particularly dangerous heights.
One, it creates more wind resistance, thus slowing them somewhat. Two, it spreads the force of the impact over a wider area, thus doing less damage to everything rather than just destroying the part of the body that takes the brunt of it. Unfortunately, this landing strategy still has its limits because it is very much possible for cats to die from a fall of sufficient height. Furthermore, even if a cat is theoretically capable of doing this, that doesn’t mean that they are actually capable of pulling it off under the circumstances. Something that is even more relevant if they have winded up in their current situation because of something that spooked them, meaning that they aren’t in the right mindset to do anything complicated.
What Should Cat Owners Do?
There are a number of things that cat owners can do to help out a cat that is stuck in a tree. If the cat isn’t very high up, they might be capable of reaching the cat using either a ladder or some other suitable tool. For instance, there have been reports of cat owners tossing a rope over a branch before using it to raise a cat carrier and then lower the cat carrier with the cat in it. Similarly, cat owners might be able to help out by either removing things that could spook the cat or tracing out a path for them to climb down using a laser pointer.
Of course, these measures won’t always be enough, particularly if the cat is somewhere particularly high-up. In those situations, cat owners should never try to climb up on their own unless they have the right expertise, experience, and equipment. Yes, humans have been known to survive some remarkable heights. To name an example, a World War Two pilot named Alan Magee managed to survive a fall of 20,000 feet even though he had no parachute. Unfortunately, people tend to die well before that point. For context, a fall of four stories works out to about 48 feet, which is important because that is the median lethal distance for falls. If the distance rises to seven stories, 90 percent of people will die while 10 percent of people will survive. For that matter, even if someone manages to survive a fall, that doesn’t mean that they will get out of it without being seriously hurt in the process. After all, people can fracture their spine with a fall of just about 10 feet, which isn’t even mentioning the wide range of other unpleasant possibilities.
As such, if cat owners see their cat stuck in a tree, they should call for assistance rather than attempt to carry out their own rescue. Emergency services may or may not be willing to help out. In a lot of places, they need to prioritize the well-being of humans, meaning that they won’t move out unless a human is involved in some way. If so, interested individuals should contact animal control, which should be at least somewhat familiar with such cases. Failing that, there are veterinarian clinics and animal welfare organizations, both of which might be capable of pointing interested individuals in the direction of tree service companies as well as other local organizations with the right tree climbing capabilities..