Cat Up a Tree

Little old ladies love cats. Cats like climbing trees. Cats don't really like climbing off those trees. Now that's some serious emergency situation.

This trope is often used to give an opportunity for the Anti-Hero to Pet the Dog, but it can also be a sign of Chronic Hero Syndrome.

Other times it is used to illustrate that the story takes place in such a peaceful lovely town where this kind of thing is the biggest emergency anyone can think of. In this latter case usually firemen come to help the old lady.

Common variation of this trope is that the cat really dislikes whoever's coming to rescue it and goes all Tasmanian Devil on the rescuer in a whirl of claws and enraged meow-shrieking.

This is Truth in Television, if not as common as media would have you think. By the by, if your cat does go up a tree (or on a roof), call a tree service or your local animal control department/shelter/what have you. The fire department has better things to do. Like, you know, putting out fires. If you do call these agencies, and the cat is not in any danger (from electrical wires), they'll tell you to leave it — it got up there, it will find its way down when it gets hungry.


    open/close all folders 

  • In the commercial for the Sonic Boom video games, Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal, a little girl's pet cat is stuck in a tree and Sonic and his friends decide to help her get it down. Knuckles pulls the tree out by its roots and the cat jumps down. While Sonic does catch the cat, the tree falls on the girl's house.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chi's New Address. Yohei's friend Ryu gets Chi down from a tree, and gets over his fear of cats as a result.
  • Invoked in the chapter name of Hinagiku's first appearance in Hayate the Combat Butler, though that time she's returning a baby bird to it's nest, she later does rescue cats from trees. Rescue in this case is a matter of opinion though, since she's afraid of heights, so she becomes stuck in the tree as well. But at least she has the ability to summon someone who will help her escape (with the cat), as opposed to the cat being alone stuck up in the tree.
  • In episode 2 of Jewelpet (2009), the Persian cat Garnet gets on a tree simply to make it more difficult for Rinko to capture her. Since Garnet is a mage with her own flying broom, she can get out whenever she wants.
  • Nyan Koi!. Junpei and Kaede's first meeting involves her trying to rescue a cat from a tree and using Junpei as a landing pad.
  • The first episode of Strike Witches has Yoshika try to rescue one of her friend's cats from a tree.

    Comic Books 
  • The first Astro City story has Samaritan rescuing a cat from a tree on his way to another emergency, and castigating himself because the thirty seconds he spent comforting the kid almost cost someone's life.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: One version of the Legion of Substitute Heroes origin has them attempting to find heroic tasks suitable to their power level. One discovers that he's too late to rescue a hypercat from the spacetree, as Brainiac Five has already done it. ("He lives next door.")
  • Superman:
  • Also in the DC Universe, the workaday heroes of Hero Hotline do this from time to time. The first time, veteran hero Stretch is teamed up with rookie hero Hotshot. Stretch's stretching powers make him the logical choice, but he's reluctant due to always getting scratched up. So Hotshot tries his hand at it by shooting mini-fireballs at the cat. It panics and leaps out of the tree... onto Stretch, and scratches him up.
  • In Will Supervillains Be on the Final?, the Superhero School has a "cat up a tree" training exercise—which uses an artificial cat to keep the students from accidentally injuring it. Our heroine actually comes up with a good plan, but still fails when her powers go wonky. One of the other students is deliberately sabotaging her.
  • One of the recurring tropes in Archie comics, with Archie, Jughead, Reggie, or really any male character down to Mr. Weatherbee doing the cat rescuing, while the girls look on.
  • Monica's Gang:
    • One by one, while trying to rescue a cat from a tree, all four main members of the gang get themselves stuck until the branch they were sitting on gave in and they fell. After that, they left and the cat remains stuck and forgotten.
    • Frankie once scolded his dog for growling at a cat that was up a tree. Then he tried to rescue the cat, only to be scratched by the ungrateful animal. Frankie was now the one growling. The dog smiled at this.
  • In a Superdupont strip by Gotlib, a little girl is crying because of her cat stuck up a tree. The eponymous Flying Brick reunites them... by flying her up to the cat, and leaving her on the branch. The mewling cat and crying girl are still there by nighttime.
  • The Uglydolls comic book has the story "My Hero", where Niimah's cat keeps getting stuck in a tree. Turns out, it's her sticking her cat in the tree constantly, just so fireman Wage can keep coming back so she can admire him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield occasionally gets stuck up a tree. In one episode of Garfield and Friends, after a while of nobody rescuing him, he lures Nermal up there by telling him humans think it's cute. His plan was to be rescued as an afterthought, if nothing else. The firefighters, news vans, and crowd of people soon gather around... and proceed to ignore Garfield, rescuing only Nermal and dispersing with scarcely a trace. Jon himself later rescues Garfield... but makes the mistake of gushing over Nermal's cuteness, prompting Garfield to climb down the ladder himself and leave Jon stuck in the tree.

    Fan Works 
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf: Empath rescues a kitten that climbed up a tree in the framing story of "Under The Cat's Paw".
  • Shaw rescues a black kitten from a tree in Holi-daze. Root and Shaw adopt him and name him Beretta.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Pleasantville the only thing the firemen do at first is rescuing cats from trees. They are initially helpless when facing a real fire.
  • Superman rescues a little girl's cat from a tree during his first movie.
    Mother: Haven't I told you to stop telling lies?! [slap]
  • Suburban Commando:
    • Shep helps get a little girl's cat down from a tree by bending the tree branch downwards...then she says it's not her cat. He releases the branch, launching the cat into the air.
    • Done a second time later on with the same girl, this time it was supposedly her cat, the cat jumps off and the girl gets thrown (only to be caught by Shep, who didn't want to see the girl get hurt)
  • In one of the Police Academy movies, an old woman asks Tackleberry to get her cat out of a tree. Gun Nut Tackleberry obliges by shooting the cat out of the tree.
  • In Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, Maya Dolittle, who can talk to animals, rescues an old lady's cat, but the cat refuses to leave the tree as long as the old lady keeps giving him baths.
  • Roxanne has an example of the second type, except the firemen-in-training are incapable of even doing this. C. D. comes along and gets the cat down with a can of tuna.
  • In the Inspector Gadget movie, Chief Quimbly refuses to take his new cyborg inspector seriously and assigns him to easy good-publicity missions, including rescuing kittens from trees with his telescoping arms. After saving a baker's dozen of cats in one week he formally requests some real work, bringing his latest rescue with him to the office.
  • After leaving the OSS in the third Spy Kids film, Juni takes on neighborhood jobs for pay, including saving cats in trees. (A bit of trivia: the cat Juni rescues in that scene is actor Daryl Sabara's own cat.)
  • Armed and Dangerous has Frank Dooley (John Candy) reluctant to indulge in this trope, only to relent when the little girl starts crying. He gets stuck up there too and has to be rescued by the fire department (with the media watching).
    Frank Dooley: Hurry up! This cat's getting nervous! [cat purring contently in his arms]
  • One Promo clip for Deadpool shows the Merc with a Mouth fetching a cat from a tree (not for an old lady, though, but for a young punk girl). There is a short Bait-and-Switch that he's about to shoot the cat, but then he does it the traditional way, by climbing the tree.
  • Lampshaded in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, when Bruce Wayne makes a sarcastic comment regarding Superman's Ideal Hero status, saying he probably saves cats from trees when he's not saving the world.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: The Creative Closing Credits show Spidey reaching for a cat in a tree. It doesn't happens in the movie proper, although Spider-Man saves Mr. Delmar's cat from the wreckage of their shop along with its owner.

  • In the children's book The Fire Cat, the title character is rescued from a tree by firemen at the beginning of the book, is taken in by the firemen, and eventually helps to rescue other cats from trees.
  • The magical pest exterminator Love Interest's first appearance in Tom Holt's The Better Mousetrap has her being employed to rescue a cat from a tree. When she breaks her neck, The Hero (who is employed to save her life to prevent an insurance company from paying out) ends up playing a brief game of Xanatos Speed Chess with a magical device known as a Better Mousetrap, which keeps finding new ways to get her killed.
  • Warrior Cats isn't safe from this trope either. In Dark River, Mousewhisker gets caught in a tree while chasing a squirrel and is too scared to come down. So Cinderheart has to go up there to get him down...and ends up breaking her leg in the process.
  • Tomcat Blue Eyes Diaries: Blue Eyes was chasing a squirrel in trees and was having a great time in the garden, until he got too high and was afraid to climb down. He was mewing very desperately and naturally, his human came to rescue him. He was trying to get him down, but finally had to go for him, but fell down when the lean bough broke. His human got injured very badly and desperate Blue Eyes could climb down rather easily after all. Blue Eyes' owner was taken to hospital and Blue Eyes was left alone, crying sadly the whole time. At the end of the chapter, his human is brought back home and Blue Eyes cuddles with him in his bed. Blue Eyes decides to never ever chase squirrels again.
  • In Kitten Crowd, one of the kittens, Clown, climbs a tree and is too young to get him down and the branch he's on is too weak for the adults, so Mandy must get him down.
  • In the Dirty Bertie story "Fire!", Pamela is trying to get a white kitten out of a tree and then Bertie climbs up for the kitten, but she climbs down and Bertie ends up stuck.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In episode 1 of the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in the final round auditions before Sam and Mark chose the 13 who would enter the lair, the kids were given a task of building a contraption to get an old lady's cat down from the tree. Safely.
  • The Andy Milonakis Show puts an interesting twist in the "cat up a tree" scenario: instead of a cat, it's John Stamos that's stuck in a tree.
  • Used as a dating ploy by Hilda on Sabrina the Teenage Witch: she convinces Salem to plant himself in a tree in order to get a date with a firefighter.
  • In a series seven episode of Russell Howard's Good News one of his mystery guests was a fire fighter and Russell received a crash course on how to be a fire fighter. A small fake room was built on the set; Russell had to break down the door and save whatever he felt was worth saving. He saved the mannequin-woman and the dog; when the guest pointed out a cat up a tall plant, Russell went "pfft" and comforted the mannequin instead.
  • In an episode of Reno 911!, the sheriff's department was the subject of a local children's show, Reading Ron. However, all of the footage was vastly inappropriate for kids, so they decided to take one of Wiegel's cats, put it on the roof of someone's house and stage it to look like a rescue. Unfortunately, the cat was difficult to work with and clawed Junior as he tried to "save" it causing him to drop it, and it landed in the AC unit below... it wasn't pretty.
  • In the first episode of the third series of Blackadder, Blackadder is in Prince George's room to announce the impending financial crisis looming over them, saying that he read "fearful news in this morning's paper." George mistakenly believes the news story to be this trope instead.
    George: Oh no! Not another cat caught up in a tree!
  • For a series about the fire brigade, it is mostly averted in London's Burning, though they do sometimes deal with comparable incidents, such as a gerbil stuck in a trumpet and a cat trapped under the floorboards. Only once do Blue Watch actually rescue a cat stuck up a tree, and Vaseline accidentally runs it over.
  • While Supergirl is trying to do small good deeds to build up her reputation, Winn tells her there's a "classic," a cat up a tree. Cut to Supergirl floating down and delivering Fluffy to a little girl. Fluffy is a snake.
  • Animal Planet's Treetop Cat Rescue is an entire show dedicated to getting cats out of trees. Especially since it takes place in Washington State, where trees are so tall (some at least 165 feet tall) that the rescuers on the show are actually professional arborists who perform the service at no charge to the owners.
  • An episode of Rescue 911 involved a racoon stuck up a tree. The trope with lampshaded with the usual advice being to let the cat come down on its own, as "When was the last time you saw a cat skeleton up a tree?" However in this case the racoon had its head trapped in a broken stump of branch, so someone has to climb up and cut it down.
  • The Studio K Show: happens to Cotton ball in Switch Sitch

  • The Aquabats!:
    • Parodied in the music video for "Super Rad!", which has Crash McLarson rescuing a cat from a tree... by crashing into the tree and knocking the cat loose. After Crash falls out himself and nearly lands on the owner, she kicks him in the head.
    • Mentioned as part of a list of the advantages to hanging out with the eponymous Big Friends Forever in "B.F.F.!"
    Stand on their shoulders
    To get your cat out of a tree
  • The opening line of the jazz classic Misty is, "Look at me. I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree."
  • If you put this into the Large Trope Collider along with Rage Against the Author, the folk song "Railroad Bill and the Kitten" pops out.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • A cat is stuck in a tree is part of the trading sequence in one of The Legend of Zelda Oracle games.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2.
    Daerred: I found an old lady and rescued a cat. We each got an apple.
    Shandra: Well, if it had been the Captain doing it, the cat would be lost, the tree burned down, and the old lady would be traveling with us now.
  • Flash game African Detroit Cop: the list of crimes committed by Eddie.
    Arnie: You've crashed two police cruisers, set someone's house on fire... shot a cat out of a tree... and that's just today.
  • Scribblenauts: Recurring puzzle in the series.
  • Stuntman: Ignition. In the trailer for the film Aftershock, the first scene features firemen trying to get a little girl's cat out of a tree.
  • The first dispatch mission you can send recruits on in MySims Agents involves a cat up a tree.
  • In The Sims, if you had the Superstar and Unleashed expansion packs, you could read a story in the tabloid paper saying a movie star had gotten a cat down.
  • SimCity:
  • In Mitsumete Knight, this situation can happen during a date at the Tree-Lined Path. Most of the girls will get a favourable impression if you volunteer to get the cat down.
  • In Okage: Shadow King, Stan decides to get a start on terrifying the townsfolk of Tenel into submission by a display of his awesome power by rescuing a trapped kitty.
  • HeroSmash allows you to both rescue cats from trees (if you're a hero) or chase them up trees (if you're a villain).
  • A quick way to gain some points in Nightshade is to coax "Tibbles" off of a telephone pole and return him to an old lady.
  • The single most demanded player request in the beta test of Champions Online was a chance to rescue a kitten stuck in a tree. You can rescue a lost kitten in the tutorial mission, although its not stuck in a tree.
  • Tekken 5's intro has a building variant with a kitten struggling to hold on. Asuka jumps from another building on a bike and rescues it.
  • Dwarf Fortress: One of the buggy behaviors that came with the multi-tile tree updates is that everyone does this, including dwarves. They somehow end up jumping, getting startled into or otherwise randomly climbing the tree and due to pathing issues and AI idiocy they simply won't get back down. It's recommended you just chop the tree down to get everyone back to the ground. If they get injured, they deserved it.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • During the World Split arc of Ink City, Tigger is chased up his tree-home by a bunch of Audlings. Ichigo attempts to save him by ramming the tree with her katamari to shake them loose, much to Tigger's dismay. Ultimately, he's forced to make a Leap of Faith to escape, with Ichigo clearing a landing strip for him.
  • Mocked mercilessly in the Whateley Universe when Generator proposes using Person of Mass Destruction Tennyo as "Radioactive Condor Girl", claiming that if Radioactive Condor Girl tried to save a cat in a tree, the cat would get irradiated to a cinder.
  • Talked about in Cinnamon Bunzuh!:
    Ifi: In other news, do you know the fire companies don't rescue cats from trees anymore?
    Adam: I used to have a turtle. I could never get the fireman to come get him out of the tree either.
  • There was a picture making the rounds on the Internet of two cats in a tree, one saying to the other "Do you think it will work this time?" and the other saying, "I hope that good-looking firefighter FINALLY asks her out!"
  • In Flander's Company season 4 episode 11, Hippolyte's first outdoor mission in the alternate universe is retrieving a cat from a tree. He's not happy about it, especially since the "whirlwind of teeth and claws" variation happens.

    Western Animation 
  • Papa Bear does this in Berenstain Bears while campaigning for mayor. Specifically, in the PBS version, there's an old lady whose cat keeps getting stuck up the trees in her neighborhood because her cat keeps getting stuck up them. Papa Bear first rescues the cat and places a smelly fertilizer around the tree that not only keeps the cat away, but is good for the tree as well.
  • Parodied by Futurama in Less Than Hero. Leela becomes a superheroine and comes to the aid of a distressed alien whose cat is stuck in a tree. After she gets the cat down safely, its owner promptly eats it.
  • Rita, from the Rita and Runt segments of Animaniacs once got herself stuck in a tree.
  • Kim Possible:
    • After a Lock and Load Montage of Kim donning her supersuit, played up as if she were preparing to take down Drakken once and for all, Wade tells her the mission is a cat stuck up a tree. This hardly seems like "a supersuit job", until it turns out to be a puma.
    • An earlier episode had Kim and Ron doing this. However, it turns out to be a trap as the old lady who called them was really Dementor in a dress and the cat is really a robot who not only scans Kim's battlesuit for Dementor, but is also a bomb.
  • The Powerpuff Girls rescue a cat from a tree. It's a Running Gag because it's the same little old lady with the same cat every time. There's also the occasion where the cat was the episode's Big Bad. He ended up in a tree, stuck, but nobody came to help him because he was a Bad Kitty.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • Blue Beetle is seen doing the "rescuing the cat from the tree" bit.
    • A later episode has a Not Himself Superman putting a cat back UP in the tree.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Cosmo turns himself into a cat and gets into a tree on purpose to make Tommy (Timmy's older brother who only exists because of a wish) rescue him.
    • In "The Big Superhero Wish", Cosmo, disguised as a cat, gets scared by Francis the bully and runs up a tree. When a firewoman comes along, Timmy things she's going to protect him from Francis, only she runs past him to get Cosmo out of the tree.
    • Another episode features Cosmo becoming a superhero and one of his deeds is getting a cat out of a tree. Turns out, it was a certain species of cat that lives in a tree, and by removing it from its home, it's gone ballistic.
  • In Arthur, Buster Baxter becomes a local hero by rescuing a cat. Actually, it was attracted to his fish-flavored ice cream, and thus wasn't saved at all, which Arthur and co. brutally exploit when they set up a chance encounter with a robotic kitten just so Buster will fail. They did this because he became a total egotistical jerk once the incident was popularized and he was lauded as a hero.
  • Sent up in Ruby Gloom when Scaredy Bat has to try to rescue Doom Kitty from a tree. Scaredy is so terrified of heights (among other things...) that Doom ends up rescuing him.
  • In Superman: Doomsday, Supes rescues an old lady's kitten, only to tell her (rather forcefully) that if a real emergency arose, he couldn't deal with it because he was saving her kitty. Actually, it was Supes's clone.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Brian Goes Back to College", Peter and the gang as The A-Team rescues a family's cat from a tree by shooting out the trunk of the tree until the whole tree collapses. The cat flees in terror, and the family is not amused.
  • DuckTales, "Hero for Hire": One of Launchpad's first "heroic" acts is trying to get a cat out of a tree. He falls out of the tree.
  • Darkwing Duck is a victim of the "whirlwind of claws" variety of cat rescue.
  • Spoofed in a "Justice Friends" short on Dexter's Laboratory. The Infraggible Krunk is seen trying to get a little girl's cat out of a tree... by throwing things at it.
  • In Recess, Spinelli was accused of throwing a rock in a dirt-clod fight. She maintains her innocence the whole time, finally admitting she couldn't have...because she was rescuing a kitten from a tree. When nobody believes her, she reveals that it happened to be Ms. Finster's kitten. After she gives the specifics, everyone realizes she's telling the truth.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, in which a fireman puts cats up a tree due to a disease that is thought to be transmitted by them.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Invoked by Rainbow Dash in "Suited For Success" with Rarity's cat, Opal, in order to get the then-despairing Rarity out of her house.
  • The MGM short Officer Pooch has a Dogface policeman continuously saving a kitten who keeps getting itself chased up a tree by a dog.
  • In Tex Avery's Three Little Pups, the wolf/dogcatcher puts on a cat hand puppet to lure out Droopy, who sets out a wind-up toy mouse — the cat puppet abruptly chases it wildly, runs into a bulldog, hisses in fear, and streaks up a telephone pole, dragging the wolf behind it all the while.
  • Teen Titans: The Titans East have arrived in the city and are making themselves notable by rescuing people, foiling bank heists, and preventing a train from careening over a cliff. All except for Speedy. While his teammates use their powers to rescue people in dangerous situations, he saves a cat stuck in a tree. Stupid kid couldn't even get his name right afterwards!
  • Parodied on Phineas and Ferb, in the episode "The Beak".
    Buford: Help! My nerd is stuck in a tree!
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants special where SpongeBob temporarily gets the ability to fly, one of his acts is to save Mrs. Puff's snail, not by getting it out of the tree, but from falling out of it.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Buzz Lightyear thinks that his enemy Emperor Zurg is responsible for whenever this happens.
  • Superman: The Animated Series, "Legacy": When Darkseid brainwashes Superman into attacking Earth, Supes ends up being captured by the military and held prisoner in a facility built by Lex Luthor. When Superman asks for a chance to prove himself, a General sarcastically asks if he intends to do it by rescuing a cat from a tree.
  • Played with at the beginning of the Sonic Boom episode, "Buster". Since the Evil Anti-Firebot does the exact opposite of everything a good fireman does, he puts a cat in a tree. Sonic sends Sticks to get it down, which she does by shaking the tree violently.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Lobster Claws", Star and Marco try to teach one of Ludo's goons how to be a good guy after he gets fired, and one of the things they get Lobster Claws to do is save a little girl's cat from a tree. Unfortunately he then tries to eat the cat, and then the little girl.
    Marco: I assumed you knew this, but you can't eat children.
    Lobster Claws: Really? Not even the annoying ones?
  • Discussed in an episode of Rugrats where Phil and Lil, who were playing with dolls, suggested that a toy girl go to the fire station because her puppy was up a tree.
  • Subverted in the Martha Speaks episode "Starstruck Martha". Martha the dog wants to become a hero so when she sees Kitten up a tree, she goes to save him. Trouble is, he didn't need saving and jumps out of the tree but Martha herself ends up stuck.

    Real Life 
  • Rescuing cats from trees (or tops of telephone poles, chimneys, etc) is pretty standard fare on Animal Planet's various animal-rescue reality shows. Acknowledged as a genuine life-and-death emergency rather than a gag, particularly when power lines are in close proximity.
  • Fire departments have been known to refer to non-emergency calls as C.I.T. (for "Cat In Tree") reports.
  • A reverse case, which doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the cat, can be found here.
  • In Rescue 911 one fireman mentioned that he always told people "How often have you seen a cat skeleton up a tree?" when asked to do this. As it turned out the cat in question had its head caught in a hollow branch.
  • The Zoo Neuwied once had a cheetah stuck in a tree. For cats they are not terribly good climbers. Rescue involved hay bales as emergency cushion if it fell, a hydraulic platform from tree services, and sedative. The lower branches of all trees in the cheetah enclosure were removed to avoid repeats.
  • Cats aren't the only things that get stuck in trees. Exotic birds (such as parrots), and large lizards (iguanas for example) have actually been stuck in sufficiently tall trees. The rule is the same, though: call your local tree service or animal control to have them come deal with it.