Should the fire service rescue cats?

Please tell me what you think even in one word. It is a difficult question because sometimes people can abuse the fire service. There has been a 60% increase in call-outs for trapped companion animals over the past 6 years in London, UK. In London there is a call to the emergency services every 14 hours asking for assistance to rescue an animal. Regrettably half of the calls relate to trapped cats; probably stuck up a tree or some other high vantage point.

They are ‘highly trained emergency service personnel’ says Ron Dobson, the London Fire Commissioner. What he means is that their role is not to rescue animals. They are too important for that. That is the impression I get.

Ron Dobson says we should call the RSPCA. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Preventation of Cruelty to Animals) will respond and assist but only after 24 hours unless it is a real emergency. The reason for delaying, they say, is that cats eventually get down or unstuck. Klare Kennett of the RSPCA makes the point that we never see dead cats up trees. Fair point but cats can get injured if they fall from trees.

In the UK there are alternative services and alternative methods. Suggestions by Alex Ralph in the Times are:

  • place the cat’s favorite food at the base of the tree. The cat will eventually come down. Comment: highly palatable and smelly food is effective in getting a cat to move wherever he or she is.
  • place a ladder against the tree and the cat will eventually use it. Comment: not sure about this. Are ladders easier for a cat to use than a tree trunk? Also most people don’t have very long ladders and often cats are stuck quite high up.

There is a video on YouTube which explains how to get a cat from a tree when the cat is too high for a ladder. You’ll like this video. It is a bit scary. The man who constructed the pussyvator LOL (cat elevator) is a laugh and very competent although I did fear for the cat on occasions. Patience is the key and calm nerves.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Another option is to contact a tree surgeon. This may be an expensive option as they are a private service – they are not free like the fire service.

However, tree surgeons are very good at getting up trees. In Shropshire, UK there is a person who specialises in recovering cats stuck up trees: Johnathan Finlow (The Good Tree Company).

Mr Finlow recovers cats, day or night. He grabs the cat by the scruff of his or her neck and puts him into a bag on a rope and lowers the cat down. I think it to avoid the tricky business of climbing down himself with a scared cat as a companion! That can lead to disaster.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Barbara says:

    Obviously each case should be judged on it’s own circumstances but on the whole I would say a big YES the fire service should rescue cats and any other animal trapped or stuck, I think it’s what the majority of the public would want and expect. I also think real men aren’t scared of showing their soft side when it comes to animals and many firemen wouldn’t even consider leaving a distressed animal to it’s fate. Or at least I hope not.

  2. We have Humane Society Officers dispatched to rescue animals here in the states. The fire dept is only called when an animal needs to be cut out of a wall using a heavy (cement) saw. They are often found given oxygen to cats/kittens rescued from fires. In one area (cant’ remember where, think it was in California) they had modified an O2 mask to accommodated small pets.

    I know the tax system is different in the UK. I also know the great of animals in England especially. I would think the creation of a special department to handle pet rescue isn’t too far fetched. Twenty years ago our neighbor to my first house trapped and took in all our cats (we had seven) but one and no one bat an eye. Some were adopted out or killed. We saved one. Now someone did that here about six months ago and he got in huge trouble. Times are changing.

    Dan in Tempe

    PS: Sorry for complaining about Helmi’s pix, I’ve seen the same with her on other sites. I wish you’d include an image with each of your posts so I could share it on my Pinterest Boards. You are always covering important issues and I have a ton of cat (rights) loving friends on that site I know from no where else. The site is image/video posts only. An amazing way to communicate.

    • admin says:

      Hi Dan, thanks for the comment. Good idea about a special department. We are bit disorganised here! As to Helmi, her pictures should only be seen on her site, breeder sites where she has photographed the breeder’s cats and on PoC. Lots of immoral people have stolen her pics from PoC and I struggle to prevent it.

      I don’t think I can illustrate every post with a Helmi picture because some post are critical of certain aspects of the cat world and I don’t want to hurt Helmi or the owner of the cat by being associated with what I say. Also a beautiful purebred cat is not relevant to a story about animal cruelty or rescue etc.

      There are video/image only sites. They are successful but I don’t think I should do that as my niche is different. I try and publish a picture a day in addition to the more serious articles. I tend to prefer the serious questioning articles rather than funny cat pic stuff which is boring after a while.

      Thanks for your thoughts though.

      • Yeah, I see there are often videos, etc. to use to post Pins on Pinterest. I am just going back and looking over the comments and there some really topical, well written blogs here. I am so lucky I found this blog.

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