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How to Teach Your Cat to Climb Down a Tree (Easy?)

If you have ever witnessed your cat stuck, and vulnerable in a tree, you would do anything to find a way for that not to happen again, right? Using a cat tree to practice will help (click here for 3 of my best Bewishome cat trees) but, is there other ways?

Can you teach your cat to climb down a tree? Yes, you have two options, either use an indoor cat tree or practice outside on a real tree with the aid of a harness and leash. This takes some time and patience so don’t expect results in a few hours.

What you will need (Quick look)

Description Image My Rating
01. Cat Tree (Indoor Training)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
5 stars
02. Yizhi Miaow Harness (Outdoor training)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
5 stars
03. Eagloo Cat Harness (Alternative)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad

Now you know that you can do this, let me explain why your cat can get stuck in a tree, a full guide on how to train them to prevent this happening, and how to get them down if they are already stuck there, read on…

Why do cats get stuck in trees?

This happens because of the design of cat claws. If you were to look closely at a cat claw, you can see they are designed to allow them to go in one direction (and it is not down!).

They have a specially shaped claw that secures them to a tree as they go up. This gives them maximum grip. However, this grip is only sufficient for going upwards.

Like an Ice Axe

To make this more understandable, if you compare this to your average mountain climber, who uses their Ice Axe, this is the T-shaped tool used to help them to ascend the mountain.

This used to pick and dig into the wall so they can climb easier, are you with me? Think about the angle, great for leveraging up a mountain, right?

However, when they are climbing back down the mountain not the same advantage, right?

Exactly! In reverse gravity would pull them down and their hooks would be worthless. This is similar behavior for cats they simply do not understand how to do this in reverse.

Why not tail first?

The Logical solution to us is for them to go down tail first, instead of head-first, right?

But, unfortunately, cats do not have this same logic. They will instinctively go head first. This will obviously end in tears, with them falling from a great height. You often see younger cats stuck in trees simply because they have not experienced it before.

How can you train your cat to climb down a tree?

In this section, I’m going to explain how you can help your cat to learn how to climb down a tree to prevent this even happening.

Please understand,  this is a slow process, it’s not something that should be rushed. It will take some time and persistence.

If you are located outside

If you are located outside then you need to take a slightly different approach. You need to get hold of a harness and a leash (Click here to see the price on Amazon #Ad) so that your cat doesn’t run away or get stuck up the tree.

Once your cat is secure, guide them up and down the tree with the leash on. This is so that you can be there to help them if they get stuck. The idea is not to make him go really high, just to give him the general idea of how to do this, are you with me?

If you are indoors

If you are indoors it is better to use a cat tree (click here for my best 3 Bewishome cat trees) which has a cat scratching post attached.

The idea here is to use a controlled environment to let them learn the concept of climbing up and then down (click here if your cat is not climbing). This is great because they can do this without injuring themselves.

Trust me, using a cat tree (Click here to see if cats really like cat trees) is a lot easier than trying to attempt it straight away outside.

Even basic things like using a cat window perch (Click here for the best one) will appeal to her natural urge to climb and prepare her.

How to get them down if they are stuck in a tree

In this section, I’m going to give you some tips on how you can get your cat down from a tree (click here to see if Faux Fur or Carpet cat trees are best)  if they are already stuck there.

Using Cheeky Coaxing

Coaxing cat from tree
Coaxing cat from a tree

This is a simple method of trying to get your cat’s attention. You need to simply coax them out of the tree. Sometimes your cat is just generally scared and they need a little bit of coaxing to get them to make that move.

What do I mean by coaxing?

What I mean is just shouting their name or some other action to gently persuade them to come down from the tree, are you with me?

If this fails or she just looks at you and then still stays in the tree you can also try using some treats to coax her down.

This will be done by getting some of her favorite treats and either placing them at the base of the tree to entice her down or waving them so that she can see them.

You may find that this may take some time so leaving them at the base of the tree is probably a better idea.

If this also fails, you can also try to grab their attention in another way. Do you know those annoying laser pens that some people use? Yes, those! You can use it to get your cat down.

If you’ve never used one before, they basically send a laser beam of light that will drive your cat crazy. It will feel compelled to run after it. Use this to try and direct your cat down.

Helping her down the tree

If the coaxing fails, you can try to help her down. This is a more proactive measure. The idea here is to get a bit closer to her and offer her an easy way down.

First, grab yourself a ladder you will be carrying an item up the tree to try and help her down. The best items to use for this is either a pet carrier or a broom.

A what now?

Yes, I did say a broom, but I will come back to that in a moment.

Firstly, using a pet carrier, you can gently send this up the ladder and offer your cat the opportunity to jump into it. This should be a much more comfortable option for your cat. Basically, you are doing all the legwork.

Failing that broom I mentioned…

You need to offer your cat the broom but, you are also going to use a slightly cheeky method…

For this, you are going to trick your cat to grab the broom. The idea is to make her feel slightly unstable by gently prodding her. Be careful not to knock her down though. You want her to grab the broom for stability.

Once she grabs it, you can safely help her down the tree.  This takes a bit of skill to get right so it’s not usually the first thing to try.

Carrying her down

For this, you need to make sure you prepare yourself. Ideally, you want to have some thick gloves and a long sleeve top on. The reason for this is your cat may panic and attempt to bite or scratch you.

This is not because they are angry or mad at you. It is because they will be scared and this may be an instinctive move for them to lash out.

The key thing here is to either grab your cat family and simply carry them down. Or, grab the cat by the scruff of the neck and place them into an item such as a pet carrier and then carry them down.

Before you head up there make sure there’s nothing on the ground that could cause harm if fall unexpectedly. By the way, use this as your last option, because it can be quite difficult and potentially dangerous.

Will a cat starve to death in a tree?

Cats have been known to starve to death in trees. But, these are more extreme circumstances. Some have lasted over a week in a tree and still survived. Those unlucky ones, can become very weak, due to the lack of food and even die of starvation.

There have even been situations where a cat will fall from high up, over 100 feet, and still survived. So, hopefully, the worse will not happen.

How long can a cat be stuck in a tree?

A cat can last over a week in a tree but it is at risk after 24 hours. Ideally, you need to get the cat down as soon as possible to avoid the chance of it starving or falling from a great height.

Cats are known to survive falling from great heights, but if they are weak, from lack of food, this can greatly reduce their chances of falling on their feet and having the strength to absorb the impact of the fall.

Which Cats can climb down trees?

Leopards are cats that are known to have the skills to climb down a tree front first. Other domestic cats need to learn how to come down backward to do it safely. And, not all cats can get this right away, hence the reason why some are stuck in the tree for hours or days.

Domestic cats do not have the same need to climb up and down trees like leopards do, to survive, hence the reason why they struggle to do this.

Should I let my cat climb trees?

You should not encourage your cat to climb trees, especially if they are likely to get stuck. But, it can be hard to control this if they are outdoor cats. An indoor cat is obviously easier to control. But indoor cats are very likely to do this whether you like it or not.

Will a cat stuck in a tree eventually come down?

A stuck cat in a tree is not guaranteed to eventually come down on its own. This is why some have died from starvation up there. This is because they fear for their life coming down and may not understand that they need to come down backward.

And, for those that may understand they need to do it backward, they still may fear the drop.

Lindsey Browlingdon