How To Keep A Cat From Climbing A Tree

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Cats are known to be amazingly agile. They are professional climbers and absolutely adore ascending to dizzy heights up trees.

Quick Overview


Cats are usually very agile climbers, but they struggle with getting back down again.


If your cat gets stuck up a tree they might need to be rescued or they might injure themselves.


You can prevent your cat from climbing trees and keep them safe by following a few careful steps.

The problem arises when cats get stuck up there and either can’t or won’t come back down. We are all familiar with the story of the firemen getting called out to rescue a wayward cat from a tree!

Why Do Cats Climb Trees?

Cats climb trees when hunting, to escape predators, and just for fun.

Cats climb trees for many reasons, including natural instincts or for predatory reasons. When cats are hunting for prey, they often like to take a high vantage point so that they can watch and stalk their prey without being seen. Being high up in a tree means that they can increase their scope of vision so that they can identify any threats in their environment as well as look for prey.

Cats also climb trees if they spot a smaller animal or bird to hunt, for example, if they have seen a bird’s nest or a squirrel up in the tree. This is often when cats get into trouble if they are chasing something and climb higher than they would usually, then are unable to get back down.

Some cats climb trees to escape predators, for example when they are being chased by a dog or coyote, or other creature that will be unable to follow them up a tree trunk. The tree provides them with a safe hiding place. In the wild, cats often climb up trees to find a safe place to sleep or rest away from potential predators.

Cats also climb trees as part of their play. They do it for fun! Kittens especially like to dig their claws into the bark of the trees and often don’t notice how high they have climbed until they realize they can’t get back down.

Also Read: 5 Simple Tips To Keep Cats Off Counters

Why Do Cats Get Stuck Up Trees?

Cats are great at climbing up trees, but they are much less skilled at climbing back down.

You might be wondering how cats get stuck up trees in the first place since they are so agile and such good climbers. The reason for this is to do with the anatomy of a cat’s claws. On their paws, the claws curve inward.

When cats put their paw on the tree trunk, the claw grips in and gives them leverage to pull themselves upward. When the cat needs to come down, unfortunately, the grip is now the wrong way around and they don’t feel secure weight-bearing facing downward with gravity pulling them down as well.

The best option in this situation would be for them to go back down the tree butt first. However, not many cats realize this! So they remain stuck.

Also Read: Can Cats Climb Down Trees?

How To Stop Your Cat From Climbing Trees

Let’s explore a few ways you can keep your cat safely out of the dizzy heights of a tree!

1. Prevent Your Cat From Going Outside

Ideally, if you want to prevent your cat from climbing trees and getting into trouble, you can simply keep them indoors. They won’t get stuck up any trees because they won’t have access to any. There are pros and cons to letting your cat go outdoors.

Outdoor cats might be more fit and active, and less susceptible to some diseases such as obesity and diabetes. However, there are many more potential threats in an outdoor environment than in the safety of your own home.

You have much less control of your cat’s environment if they go outdoors. They will have access to all sorts of trees to climb, many unsuitable for them. They also will be exposed to other animals who they will either want to chase or be chased by.

If you have an outdoor cat that regularly goes outside and you want to transition them to being an indoor cat, you need to provide them with lots of enrichment in the home to keep them occupied.

If your cat is used to being outdoors, you will need to work hard to provide them with the physical and mental stimulation that the outdoors provided them with. The minimum they will need are some toys and a cat tree for them to scratch and climb.

Also Read: Best Cat Trees, Towers & Condos For Large Cats

2. Install A Sheet Metal Guard

A metal sheet wrapped around the tree will keep your cat from going any higher as they will not be able to dig their claws into the tree trunk.

If your cat has specific trees in your yard that they love to climb up, you can wrap them up in metal sheets. This stops cats from being able to dig their claws into the bark to get a good purchase when they are climbing.

This method is often used to deter other wildlife from climbing trees close to houses in order to access to the house rooftop, and it works well. You will need to check how high your cat can jump as there is no point in putting metal around the tree for your cat to jump higher and continue to climb.

Also Read:  How To Kitten-Proof Your Home: 6 Essential Tips

3. Install A Deterrent Device

Motion-sensing deterrent devices can be an effective method of keeping your cat away from trees in your yard.

There are a few different devices you can place in your garden that can shock your cat into staying away from the trees. One of these is a motion detector-activated sprinkler. When your cat approaches, it will spray water out.

As we all know, most cats dislike water at the best of times so they will not take kindly to being squirted in the face. Another one is a motion detector-activated ultrasonic alarm. These emit a sound of a certain frequency only cats can hear and they find it very irritating. This will deter your cat from climbing the tree if it appears to them that the tree makes a horrible noise every time they go near it.

Also Read: Should I Let My Cat Outside?

4. Use A Deterrent Spray

Spraying the tree truck with a scent that cats dislike might keep them from attempting to climb.

A cheap way of keeping your cat off your trees is to spray them with something that your cat will dislike. Make sure you spray all around the trunk and go high up, as high as you would anticipate your cat jumping.

You can buy ready-made deterrent sprays, or you can make your own. Cats dislike smells such as citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, pepper, curry, and cinnamon, so take your pick.

Also Read: 10 Toxic & Poisonous Plants For Cats

5. Install A Chicken Wire Mesh Guard

Mesh or wire tree guards can keep cats out of trees, though you might not like the appearance of them.

If you are feeling creative, you can fashion a guard out of chicken wire or a similar material. You need to assess how high your cat can jump, then make a cone shape around the tree so it resembles a lampshade. This will prevent them from climbing above a certain height and getting stuck. (Although perhaps not the prettiest option!)

Also Read: Why Do Cats Arch Their Backs? Top 8 Reasons

6. Distract Your Cat With Enrichment Toys

The more fun your cat has indoors, the less likely they will want to climb trees outside.

Another option is to provide your cat with plenty of exciting things to climb in the home, so they are not tempted to start climbing up trees outside. If they have a good sturdy scratching post inside to dig their claws into, and a high cat tree with lots of different levels, this will satisfy their thirst for climbing. They will then be less likely to want to climb outside. Make sure you provide them with lots of interesting cat toys too so that they have lots to keep them occupied.

Final Thoughts

Invest in some tall cat trees so your cat can enjoy safe indoor climbing.

Cats adore climbing, and trees are particularly enticing to them with the variety of textures for them to get their claws into.

If you have a keen climber on your hands, it is wise to prevent them from scaling the trees in your yard. It will save your sanity, as you won’t be worrying about them needing a rescue squad to help them down, or worse, falling and injuring themselves.

It’s not possible to prevent cats from climbing, but you can persuade them to only climb when and where it is safe, for example -on a cat tree in the comfort of your own home!

Also Read: Why Does My Cat Attack My Feet?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you stop cats from climbing trees?

There are various methods you can use to prevent your cat from climbing, these include:

  • Keeping your cat indoors
  • Using a deterrent spray
  • Using a metal tree guard
  • Using a chicken wire cone
  • Give them safer alternatives to climb
  • Use motion detectors that release water or make high-frequency sounds

What deters cats from climbing?

Cats will usually be put off from climbing if there is a noxious stimulus waiting for them. For example, if there is a spray of water or a noise emitted at a frequency that irritates them. Other things include smells that they dislike or obstacles that prevent them from climbing with ease.

How do you stop a cat from climbing a Christmas tree?

There are a few festive cat-safe deterrents you can use to keep your cat from climbing your Christmas tree.

These include:

  • Wrap aluminum foil or double-sided sticky tape around the bottom of your tree.
  • Hang oranges and use orange juice scent or apple cider vinegar around the bottom of the tree
  • Place decorations on the top two-thirds only.
  • Secure your tree to the wall or the ceiling so that if your cat does climb, it won't topple over.
  • Avoid using tinsel as cats adore it and often try to eat it.

Should I let my cat climb trees?

Climbing trees is good exercise for cats. It involves lots of muscles in their body and increases their fitness and agility. However, despite these benefits, cats face many risks and threats if they are allowed outside climbing.

They might get stuck and need rescuing. They might fall and injure themselves. You know your own cat best and if you think they are going to get into mischief up a tree, it is best to prevent them from climbing them to keep them safe.

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About Dr. Emma Chandley BVetMed PGCertSAS MRCVS

Emma graduated from the Royal Vet College in London in 2011. An expert in cat behavior and nutrition, she also has a keen interest in surgery. Emma went on to do a post-graduate certificate in small animal surgery and was then awarded advanced practitioner status in the same discipline.