HomeCat Behaviorcat personalityWhy Some Cats Don’t Climb Down Trees


Why Some Cats Don’t Climb Down Trees — 11 Comments

  1. The other day Monty spent nearly 30 minutes up in a tree. It’s snowy out there, so he likes it up there, out of the snow. I wasn’t worried about him. I knew he was having a good time. Maybe sometimes people react too soon, thinking the cat can’t get down when really he is just enjoying himself. My sister and I used to climb a huge pine tree in the woods near our house. We would literally be sitting up in that tree for hours on end. If human children can stay in a tree for hours, cats certainly can, because they are more comfortable up there than humans ever could be.

    • Nice point Ruth. I am pleased you see the point I am making. I do believe that people are too eager to get cats down. Not always, but sometimes. I believe that all cats would get down, in due course, on their own, if left to do it.

  2. If they could just stick to their instinct they would get back down fine but it looks like sometimes they look down from high up for the first time and get a bit of a shock.

    • Yes, I agree, lack of familiarity and practice. The ability is there. My theory is that if nature gave them the ability to climb trees nature would also give them the ability to climb down. One without the other does not make sense.

      • The ability is definitely there. From observing our cats, it is clear that they instinctively know both how to climb up *and* down trees. It’s just that in Bobbie’s case, her deep anxiety interferes with doing what she already knows how to do.

  3. Cats can come down trees if they choose to that’s for sure.
    I had a neighbour years ago whose cat went up high and she was frantic after a few hours and rang the fire brigade,they arrived only to see the cat zoom down and take off at the sight of them lol
    Lucky they saw the funny side.
    I don’t think fire brigades would come out now without charging if they’d even come at all.

  4. Our cat Robin has always climbed up and down trees without the slightest fear or hesitation. Our Bobbie, on the other hand, is very nervous by nature. She climbs trees only occasionally, and then only hesitatingly. She has never attempted to climb higher than around 12 feet (4 meters). Once she reaches that height, she gets scared and freezes. After a while of being stranded up there, she loudly meows desperate cries for help. Then we have to get out the ladder and rescue her, as she is obviously too scared to attempt to come down on her own.

    • Looks like the reason is anxiety. I think this stems from a lack of practice. She has the drive and ability built in from birth, but not the practice.

      Thanks for sharing Howard. Interesting.

  5. Monty has definitely had a learning curve when it comes to getting down from trees. But he is getting better at it and will now climb down backwards quite consistently. I don’t think cats, or at least my cat, has an instinct which tells him to climb down backwards. He was quite stubborn about it for a long time wanting to either jump or race down the tree head first. He observed many squirrels climbing down trees, but since I’ve had him, no cats doing this. He seemed quite irritated that he couldn’t perch head first down a tree like the squirrels can. Now he seems more content to use his claws in the proper direction. This could be due to deep snow cover. Jumping onto the snow would shove snow between his toes and he hates that. When the snow melts he may be back to racing down head first and jumping. I try to discourage the jumping since he could develop arthritis later in life from too much jumping down from great heights. Sometimes I bend over beneath the tree and Monty jumps onto my back and then onto the ground. We may be back to that when the snow is gone.

  6. I don’t think mother cats teach their kittens how to come back down trees, I think it’s their natural instinct which has been part of them since cats lived wild.
    Some kittens don’t have access to trees, so how could their mother teach them? Our Jozef’s feline family didn’t at the place he was born, yet at 10 months old he went 30 foot up a tree here and after he was sure we had all seen and admired his skill and were suitably worried as to how we’d get him down, he came easily back down himself.
    I really think that ‘cat experts’ can never know all about cats, they can only assume how a lot of their habits came about, no one can know all about a cat apart from the cat him/herself and I for one love their mystery!

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