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 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 Tazmanian 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, they'll tell you to leave it—it got up there, it will find its way down when it gets hungry.
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Anime & Manga
- 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.
- Chi's New Address. Yohei's friend Ryu gets Chi down from a tree, and gets over his fear of cats as a result.
- The first episode of Strike Witches has Yoshika try to rescue one of her friend's cats from a tree.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.")
- It's been something of a Running Gag for years to show Superman rescuing cats from trees, showing that the most powerful man on Earth is still a nice enough guy to take the time to do it.
- 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. Stratch'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.
- Magick Chicks had several bouts of this, starting with a Catapult Nightmare Mellissa had on the very first page.
- 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.
- One by one, while trying to rescue a cat from a tree, all four main members of Monica's Gang got themselves stuck until the branch they were sitting on gave in and they fell. After that, they left and the cat remained 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 Pleasantville the only thing the firemen do at first is rescuing cats from trees. They are initially helpless when facing a real fire.
- In The Incredibles in the Batman Cold Open, Mr. Incredible gets the cat off the tree and stops a pack of criminals at the same time.
- Superman rescues a little girl's cat from a tree during his first movie.
- In 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. 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 stops giving him baths.
- Fuck you, Mr. Bitey!
- 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
- The climax of Winnie The Pooh and Tigger Too involves Tigger bouncing up to the top of a tree and being unable to get down, and as a result the Narrator steps in to get him down by literally tilting the book so he slides down the page he is on!
- 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 his actor Daryl Sabara's own cat!)
- 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.
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" scenerio: 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.
- 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.
- 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 3000 had a news ticker headline: "Tree stuck in cat. Firefighters baffled"
- 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.
- Hero Smash 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.
- 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', claimng that if Radioactive Condor Girl tried to save a cat in a tree, the cat would get irradiated to a cinder.
- Rescuing cats from trees is discussed as a thought exercise in explaining how video games usually present moral choices in Zero Punctuation.
- 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.
- 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.
- I can't find it now, but 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!"
- There are some comical posters with images of cats hanging from a tree branch and messages that read "Hang in there, baby."
- Parodied in the Street With a View project: see here.
- 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.
- There have been a number of cases where the cat got stuck up the tree/on the telephone/wherever, and then decided to take a leap from the top of the object. Numerous times it's just as someone's coming up for the rescue. Luckily, there are only rarely injuries, since cats have a natural ability to survive falls up to a certain point. (A few stories, that is...any higher and they will get hurt).
- The Dutch language has an expression, de kat uit de boom kijken - 'to stare the cat down from the tree', or 'to get the cat from the tree by looking at it'. It roughly means 'to wait and see how the situation plays out before taking action yourself'.
- If this happens to you, get another cat. No, seriously. If you have more than one, or can get another one to the bottom of the tree give it lots of attention. This is an almost guaranteed way for the cat who is stuck up there to get jealous and want to come down.