Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Cats are climbers by nature. And although they usually confine their clambering to the couch -- and maybe the curtains (eek!) -- their skills sometimes take them up a tree. Unfortunately, most aren't as adept at climbing down.
More than anything, getting kitty back on the ground takes patience. There's no standard rescue protocol, and advice is sometimes conflicting. But if you're ever faced with such an anxiety-provoking situation, here's a list of do's and don'ts that might help you get her down:
Don't force her to jump. Using tactics like spraying your cat with water could cause her to take a dangerous and injury-inducing leap.
Don't call the fire department. They won't come save the day . . . that's a myth. But some tree-trimming companies do offer cat-rescue services for a fee.
Give her time. A treed cat is most likely a scared cat, and attempts to reach her may only send her climbing higher. A little time (and space) may help her calm down and climb down on her own.
Remove potential threats. A loose dog or rowdy kids may have sent your kitty in search of shelter. If possible, clear the area of such startlers.
Comfort her. Call to her in a calm, soft, reassuring voice. Or try making noises that normally bring her running at supper time, such as tapping a fork on the side of a can, shaking a bag of kibble, or running the electric can opener -- with a really long extension cord!
Use bait. Place a generous amount of a strongly odored food, like mackerel or cooked chicken, under the tree or on the steps of a ladder leaned at an angle against the tree.
Enlist help. If your cat has not come down after several hours, or if hypothermia, dehydration, or starvation is a risk, contact your local shelter or rescue group for the name of a trained animal handler who can help. If you want to attempt the risky and tricky endeavor of climbing up after her, be sure to . . .
* Ask a neighbor or friend to steady the ladder and stand ready with a cat carrier.
* Anticipate a fierce struggle. Wear protective gloves and clothing as well as safety glasses or goggles. Those claws are sharp.
* Grab your cat -- if you can -- by an ample handful of skin at the nape of the neck. Hold her tightly and away from (never against) your body as you go down the ladder.