Rescue your Kitten Before it gets Stuck up a Tree
Rescue your Kitten before it Gets stuck up a Tree
written by Zanzara Zeviar, Shuswap Lakes, BC, Canada
If you’ve ever owned a kitten that ran up a tree and just would not come down, you are not alone.
I’ve spent hundreds of dollars – because of living on acreages, which had a lot of big trees – hiring professional tree climbers or toppers to get kittens out of these trees. Through necessity, I finally figured out a way to teach the kitten to back down the tree.
They are afraid to do this if not taught, as their little claws will only grab climbing up. They always try to climb down and get frightened as their claws slip going down, not grabbing the way they do going up.
Many searches on the internet will tell the frustrated owner of the kitten to just leave them and they will come down on their own. Or advice is given to put food at bottom of tree and cat will come down for it. If the tree is 100 feet high, there is no way the cat will even know there is food there – and in the country attracting other animals – i.e. rodents, coyotes, raccoons, Skunks. Skunks LOVE cat food!
Skunk Eating Cat Food
Cats and kittens claws are constructed for climbing up.
Cats and kittens claws are constructed for climbing up.
When cats and kittens attempt to climb down headfirst (and normally this is what they will try to do first), it's impossible for them because the claws are curved the wrong way.
Most internet searches will tell people that eventually, a cat or kitten will figure out on its own how to go down the correct way - shimmying down backward so that the claws will cling to the bark of the tree. NOT true. A kitten may figure this out if it’s a year and half old, but before this – it’s unfortunately seldom true. Especially if the tree is really tall,
Tree climbers have told me that many is the time they have found little cat skeletons at the top of trees with the claws totally imbedded in the tree bark. When the tree swayed in the wind, the cat would just cling tighter as it is terrified.
The longer the kitten is up the tree, the hungrier and dehydrated it becomes too. It lacks the will to even come down after a couple of days and unless it rains, will have very little to drink. If it does chew on the tree leaves or needles, its little digestive system suffers and it gets the runs. It becomes so frightened; it just clings on for its life and eventually just starves.
Now this is totally preventable. The trick is to teach the young cat how to climb down the tree backwards. If you have a new kitten or a young cat and you want to prevent it from ever getting stuck up a tree, you can easily teach it this.
Remember, cats are very smart. They retain memory twice as long as a dog and if training steps are repeated, they retain the memory for life.
Instructions continued below
NOTE: It’s very important NOT to rush this procedure. Give the Kitten plenty of time so there is never any fear of the process. Trust will help it remember the lesson much better.
Go to a pet store that has the tiny dog harnesses for sale. Some will have cat harnesses, but they tend to only be for around the neck and belly with nothing in middle. These ones can choke the cat. Like this one:
Wrong Type of Harness - this one will Choke
One that goes around its belly and neck but also attaches together under the belly is best. You will also need a length of light strong rope- about 8 feet should be enough.
Best type harness for training Kitten
First day – keeping kitten or young cat in the house – put this little harness on it a few times throughout the day, leaving on a bit longer each time, until it gets used to it. Even just leave it on without attaching anything to it and play a few games with it. Chase the string, or even the rope you are going to use.
Second day – do the same thing in the morning and then in the afternoon, attach the rope to the loop (where a dog’s lead rope would go) and walk around a bit getting the kitten/cat used to the feeling of the pull of it under it’s chest/waist. Do this a few times during the day too.
Third day, if you don’t have a post or cat tree in the house – and if the kitten has been allowed outside briefly, put the harness on it and attach the rope. Tie the rope around your waist, making sure it’s a knot easy to get undone (slipknot), but not possible to come undone on it’s own – tying it short enough that the kitten would not be able to climb above your head, so that you can easily reach it.
Then go to the indoor cat tree or outside to a tree with a wide enough trunk, but not too wide for the kitten to be able to latch onto. Hold the kitten against the tree, and just support it enough, that it will try to start climbing the tree.
This will be its instinct if not held up too much. When it has climbed a few steps up and is supporting itself, physically pull one of its front paws off the tree, and place it about half an inch below where it was.
Then do the same with the other front foot. Then do the same with the back feet.
Do this a couple of times so that the kitten has backed down a few inches. Then take the kitten off the tree, praising it and petting in the whole time.
Next day do the same thing, once in morning and once in after noon. Each time, pulling gently on the rope to get it used to it and to understand that a slight pull means climb backwards and down wards. Next day repeat, each time letting it climb a little bit higher. When you have allowed it to climb above your head – lengthening the amount of rope tied around your waist – gently pull on the rope, encouraging it to climb down on its own. Tug very gently, or it will resist and try to climb higher.
When you have done this for about a week, and the kitten has climbed a few feet above your head, you will find that with a slight tug on the rope and calling “come (kitty’s name)” the kitten will begin to climb down on its own. Depending on how well the kitten has learned this, you will know whether to lengthen the lessons a few days more.
You will then feel confident to allow your kitten outside with out worrying about it getting stuck up the tree or having to first find which 150 foot tree it’s up and then paying a tree climber $100-$200 to go up and get it.
Sometimes, if the tree is too tall and the kitten has climbed up to the flimsiest branches, the tree climber will have to top the tree. He won’t always be able to catch the falling part of the tree and the kitten will fall all the way down to the ground.
One time, I had a tree climber top at tree, it fell close to another tree (this is in the mountains where there are a LOT of evergreen spruce trees) and the kitten jumped over onto the other tree! The tree climber then had to climb the other tree and top it, before we could get the kitten - Moon Beam - down. After this, one – is when I literally figured out – Necessity being Mother of invention – How to teach a young cat how to climb down a tree backwards.
This method has been a total success with quite a few other young cats since Moon Beam - several years ago now.
Happy Kitten/Cat Loving! ZZ
This How To book may be copied and distributed as long as it is kept intact and credit is given to the Author, Zanzara Zeviar of Shuswap Lakes, BC, Canada.
Any Donations for this help book much appreciated. All proceeds go towards health care of my rescued cats and kittens. Thank you.
Inky Dinky Spider Man
Rainbow followed me home limping (about 1/4 mile) on three legs five years ago. He was injured as a kitten & never cared for. He could barely step on one of his hind back legs.
From constant massage, proper food and a warm, dry comfortable home, today he runs and plays - on all four legs. When he came to me he was about 10, so it's amazing that he healed this way. He thinks he's a kitten again at 15 plus.
He also decided that he is a house cat, and that's that! :)
Any donations appreciated if you found this ebook helpful
- Online Payment, Merchant Account - PayPal
Any donations go towards health care of all my rescued cats. Thank you.