Would nature and evolution have allowed domestic cats to get stuck up trees?

It occurred to me that it is rather strange that domestic cats get stuck up trees. Although let’s be clear, it is their owners who think that their cats are stuck. We do not know what the cat herself is thinking. Does she think that she’s stuck and unable to get down? Or is she simply considering it and feeling a bit unsure about herself?

The rescue in the background and Ms Howden the cat's owner in the foreground. Photo: PLYMOUTH LIVE/PENNY CROSS
The rescue in the background and Ms Howden the cat’s owner in the foreground. Photo: PLYMOUTH LIVE/PENNY CROSS
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It seems strange to me that nature has allowed a cat to have this ‘behavioural defect’ when the domestic cat has inherited all their ancestral wild cat traits and they are climbing a tree, an object that is part of nature. What happened? How did evolution get this so wrong? Or are cat owners misreading their cats? I don’t recall reading about a similar behavioural issue affecting a wild cat species of any kind.

As I said many years ago, we don’t see any dead cats in the crook of a branch 40 feet up a tree. We do, however, see lots of firefighters and tree surgeons 40 feet up a tree trying to coax down a cat. At this stage the cat doesn’t want to come down because they are confronted with a complete stranger trying to grab hold of them.

That might give the wrong impression. It gives the impression of the cat doesn’t want to get down but she’s probably simply scared of the stranger.

Hatty reunited with a happy Ms Howden. Photo: BBC website.
Hatty reunited with a happy Ms Howden. Photo: BBC website.

A recent story that I saw on the Internet and which has gone viral is about a cat, Hatty, stuck for 6 days on a bridge in the UK. She was stuck on the Royal Albert Bridge which connects Plymouth and Saltash. You may have read about it. Firefighters did their very best to get her down. It was a major rescue operation. They had to erect their longest ladder and hack away at undergrowth in order to get at her.

But nothing worked and the rescue was called off but then she turned up all on her own, a bit skinny and a bit smelly but very vocal and ready for a rest and some food.

Her owner, Ms Howden, 39, said that she was about to join a second rescue attempt when she heard a meow outside.

Clearly Hatty had made up her mind to come down whereas before she wasn’t ready. I wonder whether this provides us with an insight as to how domestic cats feel when they are perceived to be stuck up a tree. Note: I am specifically referring to trees as some artificial structures may present unforeseen artificial (unnatural) problems for a domestic cat.

As I mentioned, perhaps they simply are not ready to come down and if that is the case we should leave them until they are ready. The big problem is that we can’t leave them because we are worried about them. We need to do something. We need to act. This is when the rescue begins. Are we doing this for ourselves or for our cat or both?

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