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Why Do Cats Climb Trees? (Helpful Examples)


Cats often climb trees. They do it for fun, to track a bird or for shelter. While their claws are great for climbing, they are not so great for descending.


In 99% of cases, a cat that has climbed up will find its way down. However, sometimes it can’t get down anymore. In this case, you should be able to help it.


Should you let your cat climb a tree?

Even if you wanted to prevent your cat from climbing a tree, it’s probably a bad idea to do so. In some cases, cats will climb a tree to get away from prey or a noise they don’t like.


So imagine if your cat hadn’t climbed the tree the last time a dog chased him, it could have ended much worse!


What do you do when your cat climbs a tree?

It’s important not to put yourself in danger:

  • Avoid climbing the tree yourself or using a ladder if you are not sure you have secured it properly.
  • Remember, it’s easier to climb up empty-handed than to come down with a panicked cat in your arms that could scratch you.
  • Don’t take any chances, either for yourself or for the cat.


1. Be patient, your cat will surely come down by itself

Even if it takes several hours or even a day or two, most cats will eventually come down on their own.


To reassure your cat, however, you need to allow him to feel safe. Avoid gatherings of the whole family giving advice and calling him, and of course keep the dogs away. If you don’t want to leave him completely alone, a family member he knows well can stay by the tree or watch him discreetly.


2. Encourage your cat to move

His kibble, pate, and a treat can encourage him to move, especially if he’s been perched for several hours. Find out which branch he’s on and encourage him to come and eat by bringing his food as close to him as possible.


You can also try luring him with a laser pointer. Cats rarely resist this small point of light. Find an easier path for your cat to follow and try to get him to follow it.


3. Offer your cat an escape route

Depending on your cat’s location, offer an escape route. Find a foothold in the tree not too far from where he is to place a large ladder or board, which will allow him to get out of the tree.


With the board and a stepladder, you can also build a walkway that passes not far from the branch where he is.


4. Call in a third party to rescue your cat

If the situation drags on for more than three or four days, you can try to call in a third party. Seek advice from a cat rescue organization or veterinarian near you.


Be aware that the fire department no longer comes to rescue a cat stuck in a tree. You can always try to ask them, they may be sensitive to your distress.


Some tree trimmers are willing to come and rescue your pet for a fee.


Why do cats climb trees if they can’t get down?

It is not uncommon for a cat to get stuck in a tree after attempting to climb it. But why do cats climb trees so high if they can’t get down?


Most often, when cats climb trees, it’s to escape a danger: a dog chasing them, a noise that has scared them… But it can also be for fun, like chasing a prey or simply to get to a high observation point to have a clear view of their environment.


Indeed, our feline friends love to take height. This allows them to observe without being seen and therefore to feel safer.


Do cats know how do you get down from trees?

The reason cats climb trees so easily is because of their backward curved claws. In fact, their claws are designed to take them in only one direction: forward. However, when it comes to descending, they are not much help as they point upwards.


In fact, in order for a cat to safely climb down a tree, it would have to go down on its buttocks. However, not only do cats have difficulty coordinating their front and back legs to back up, but this position is not instinctive for them.


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


However, some cats do, especially if they start to get (very) hungry.

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