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Cat Up a Tree

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

This trope is often used to give an opportunity for an Anti-Hero to Pet the Dog, especially if the character is a Kindhearted Cat Lover, 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. While cats are typically ground-dwellers, they have some rather impressive arboreal tendencies, and will regularly climb up tall objects to get a better vantage point — indoors or outdoors — and trees are no exception to the things they'll climb. The main issue cats face getting down from trees are that they can't climb down headfirst (in contrast to other arboreal creatures like squirrels or monkeys), and the stress from having to climb down without being able to see where they're going (i.e. tailfirst) tends to scare them into staying put.

By the way, 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 or a danger to others, they'll tell you to leave it — it got up there, and it will find its way down when it gets hungry. A very common question asked by responders to these situations is: "How many times have you seen a cat skeleton in a tree?" Of course, if the tree IS on fire, then that's a different story.


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  • 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.

  • Boxballet: The boxer and the ballerina first meet when he climbs a tree to rescue her cat. He comes down with the cat on his face. Cut to the ballerina, in her apartment, applying bandages to the many cuts on the boxer's face.
  • Happy Heroes: In episode 2 of Season 12, Careless S. tries to help a girl by getting her pet cat down from a tree, but his weapon doesn't reach far enough to grab the animal and Sweet S. saves it from falling to the ground before Careless S. can do so.
  • In Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Sports are Fun episode 23, while ice skating carelessly outside, Wolffy finds a cat in a tree and jumps up to it to save it. Wolffy falls over before he can save the cat, which jumps out of the tree itself.

    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, 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.
  • Little Lulu: Near of the end of episode 6, Tubby tricks Lulu into climbing a tree and mimicking a cat's meow. However, one of the things that causes Tubby's plan to backfire is that there really is a cat stuck in the same tree that Lulu is in, and Lulu gets rewarded with a ride on the fire truck that she wanted and is allowed to take the cat she just saved on the fire truck ride.
  • 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.
  • Pecola: In "Fire Drill Frenzy", one of the emergencies Pecola sets up for Jabatt and Bashatt is to have Robbie climb up a tree to be rescued. Pecola couldn't find any cats to use.
  • The first episode of Strike Witches has Yoshika try to rescue one of her friend's cats from a tree.

    Comic Books 
  • Alt-Hero. Dreamforge shows a video of an SPC superhero saving a girl's kitten as an example of what they're up against, and why the anti-government superheroes need to pay attention to their image as well.
  • Archie Comics: One running gag, with Archie, Jughead, Reggie, or really any male character down to Mr. Weatherbee doing the cat rescuing, while the girls look on.
  • 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.
  • Hero Hotline: The workaday heroes 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.
  • 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.")
  • 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.
  • Superman:
    • It's been something of a Running Gag for years to show Superman or Supergirl rescuing cats from trees, showing that the most powerful beings on Earth are still nice enough to take the time to do it.
    • Invoked in the first issue of Supergirl (1982), when Supergirl says that she would interrupt a date with Robert Redford to rescue a kitten from a tree.
    • Parodied in Supergirl (2005) #34. After Catherine Grant publishes a slander piece on Supergirl, Kara leaves a note on her desk, saying: "Cat — Don't call me if you ever get stuck in a tree. S-Girl"
    • The opening scene of the Boyzarro storyline has a splash page of Bizarro (the Multiverse Htrea version, not the Forever Evil (2013) one) surrounded by scenes of his reverse-heroism, including two appalled children watching as he threw dozens of cats into a tree.
    • Implied in Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen (2019). In the middle of an interview on his "secret superpowers", Superman disappears. A few minutes later, he reappears, holding a cat, and his only explanation is that he suddenly needed to do something unspecified.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • Citizen Dog has the recurring character Cuddles, a cat belonging to Mel and Fergus' little old lady neighbor, who occasionally found himself up a tree. Once he trapped himself at the top of a public pool's high diving board, requiring a fireman to begrudgingly elevate and fetch him.
  • Garfield:
    • 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 (while also mentioning he had known Garfield was up in that tree for hours), prompting Garfield to climb down the ladder himself and leave Jon stuck in the tree.
    • In one strip Garfield gets stuck up a tree, and calls Odie for help. Odie comes back, and tosses a bowling ball at a confused Garfield. The added weight off the ball and Garfield causes the branch to break and Garfield to come crashing down. While Garfield says that he hates dogs, Odie flashes a sinister smile.
  • Invincible by Pascal Jousselin is about a superhero who has No Fourth Wall, and can achieve amazing feats by disregarding panel borders. In one strip he rescues a cat from a tree, by bending down and lifting it off the next row of panels. This means there are briefly two cats, but it syncs up once we get to the row he took it from.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: An unnamed farm cat gets stranded in a tree in "The Blood Brother". Duke chases him into the road trying to get him hit by an oncoming truck, but the cat escapes and ends up this way.
  • Early on in Child of the Storm, it's mentioned that Steve Rogers once stopped on his way to a mission to save a kitten from a tree. He is considered the Nice GuyIn-Universe — and more or less lives up to it (he's not perfect, but he's pretty close). Since he was, at the time, trying somewhat petulantly to claim that he could be "edgy", Clint pointed this incident out, stating, "you're about as edgy as cookie dough."
  • 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.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, All Might declares that even with his limited time as a Hero, no job is too large or too small for him. Whether it's stopping the Royal Flush Gang or helping a kitty cat out of a tree, he'll do it because he's the Symbol of Peace.
  • Not the intended use (Zantetsuken Reverse): In Supernatural Support Society, when Naoki tries looking up Kazuya Suou online to find his social media, the only thing he finds is an article about Kazuya's cop cousin Katsuya rescuing a cat from a tree.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Bad Guys (2022), one of the tests Professor Marmalade gives the Bad Guys is to save a cat stuck up a palm tree. It doesn't go well at first, with the gang just scaring the cat further up. Later that night, Mr. Wolf successfully lures the cat down with kindness, serving as his Heroes' Frontier Step.
  • In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, the title character comes across an old lady with her cat stuck in a tree. He helps out by tossing her up in the tree and leaving the two stuck together.
  • 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, by uprooting the tree (don't worry, he puts it back).
  • Steven Universe: The Movie: When Beach City is being evacuated due to Spinel dumping the remaining contents of her injector on the town, Alexandrite comes across Cat Steven in a tree avoiding a flood of bio-poison, and takes the entire tree with her before handing the cat off to Kiki Pizza.
  • In Superman: Doomsday, after coming back to life following his battle to the death with Doomsaday, Superman (actually a clone created by Lex Luthor) gets an old lady's cat down from a tree, and admonishes her for distracting him from more urgent matters he needs to attend, and subtly tells her it better not happen again, or else.
  • 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!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Armed and Dangerous (1986) has Frank Dooley 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]
  • 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.
  • The Day Called 'X': A police dispatch center is dealing with a cat up a tree report right before they get a CONELRAD warning that enemy bombers are on their way to nuke the city.
  • 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.
  • Desperados: Wesley rescues Kaylie's cat Kevin who's stuck in a tree and ends up getting all stretched by him in the process.
  • 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.
  • In Inspector Gadget, 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.
  • Kick-Ass: Kick-Ass attempts to rescue a cat from atop a billboard. Key word, "attempts".
    Kick-Ass: Fuck you, Mr. Bitey!
  • 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 first Police Academy movie, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After leaving the OSS in the Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, 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.)
  • 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)
  • 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]
  • In a Mexican movie called Los Verduleros: 2, a cop and his partner are called to a lady's house to get her cat down from a tree. They tell her it's not a real emergency, but after she yells at them, one of them climbs the tree and gets his face scratched for his trouble. The lady tells him to get the cat down without damaging her tree, when he asks how's he supposed to do that, she says she doesn't care but he needs to figure something out. He takes his gun out, and shoots the cat. Bad move, as the lady was their station commander's mother.

  • In The Bad Guys, this is the first good deed the newly-heroic main characters attempt to do. However, old habits die hard, and they manage to startle the cat so much that it simply jumps out of the tree. Mr. Wolf catches him, only for the cat to claw up his face in retribution.
  • Played with in the children's book The Cat Would Not Come Down: A king tries to get his cat down, but nothing works, not even a wizard's spell. It turns out, the cat wasn't stuck, he just liked it up there.
  • The Devious Book For Cats has a chapter on what to do if stuck in a tree.
  • 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.
  • Inverted in a non-comic way in The Famous Five book Five get into Trouble. Anne climbs a tree, and while she is up there, Dick is captured by two villains. Anne is too upset and frightened to climb down, and has to be rescued by Julian.
  • 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 J.W. Wells & Co. nevel 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.
  • 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.
  • Mog: Played with in "Mog and the Granny". Mog cannot climb down from the tree, but she finds she can jump down.
  • Stray contains an example where a pet budgie flies out a window and into a tree. He's untamed so the fire department is unable to catch him. A few hours later, Pufftail's brother Bootsie kills him because he never liked the bird.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine, "Sal's Pizza": Detective Jake Peralta is getting more and more frustrated that he can't investigate a case of arson because the fire department is in charge. He wants to distract them: His partner Boyle is supposed to tell them that his kid's cat is stuck up in a tree. Boyle has no kids, but loves undercover work with Jake. It's also meant as a quip about their usefulness because the firemen make fun of them and bring up the cops-love-donuts stereotype all the time.
    Jake: These firemen are not moving. We gotta distract 'em. Tell 'em your little boy's cat got stuck up in a tree.
    Charles: Ooh, undercover work. I love it. I need more back story. First off, can it be my daughter's cat?
    Jake: Okay, but if you get made because of that, it's on you.
    Charles: Fine. Let's talk about the cat. Short-hair, long-hair? Tabby?
    Jake: Short-hair, calico. The son is adopted. Your wife is in a coma.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In "100 Terrible Hours", Rob becomes involved in a wake-a-thon. Late in the wake-a-thon, Rob reads a news bulletin about firemen attempting (so far unsuccessfully) to retrieve a nine-week-old kitten from an elm tree. Rob, already very badly affected by being awake for so long, chokes up and starts crying. He even wants to go save the kitten before his interview to be a writer on The Alan Brady Show.
  • In Living Color! has a Rescue 911 parody called Rescue Whenever which featured a Black man (played by David Alan Grier) in Compton calling 911 because he was robbed and beaten in a home invasion only to be dismissed by the cops while an Asian man (played by Steve Park) in Beverly Hills calling about his cat up a tree with numerous police and other officials hurrying to the scene.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Sparks' song "Here Kitty" is from the point of view of a fireman who has to rescue stuck cats, and ends up going after tiger during a circus fire after its trainer offers to sleep with him.
  • Ice-T and Body Count's "Body Count" briefly mentions this in the intro, describing the sort of reality that's as far from his as it can get:
    ...I wonder what would be like to live in some place like
    You know,
    The Cosby Show, Ozzie and Harriet
    You know, where cops come and got your cat outta the tree
    All your friends die of old age
    But you see.. I live in South Central, Los Angeles
    And unfortunately... SHIT AIN'T LIKE THAT!
    It's real fucked up!


    Puppet Shows 
  • The Puzzle Place: In "It's Mine", Kiki does this with Sizzle when she plays firefighter, even though all Sizzle wants to do is take a nap. When Julie tries to do this with Sizzle, Sizzle runs away, not wanting to partake in this game.
    Sizzle: What is this? "Save a Cat Day"? I mean, really!
  • Sesame Street: In the Tickle Me Land segment of Elmo's World: Firefighters, Elmo saves a cat from a tree.
  • In the The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss episode, "Cat's Play", Sarah Hall-Small imagines herself as a superhero while she waits for her grandmother's cookies to be ready to eat. In her Imagine Spot, she rescues Puffy, Felix Finkledooper's pet cat, when she gets stuck in a tree.

  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In some games with poor balancing that effectively puts characters into strict tiers of usefulness, there's a saying: The knight saves the princess, the wizard saves the world, the rogue saves the cat from a tree.
  • In Chutes and Ladders, square #28 depicts a boy rescuing a cat trapped in a tree. This square is at the bottom of the tallest ladder in the game, which takes the player up to square #84, where the cat thanks the boy for saving it by rubbing up against him.

    Video Games 
  • 911 Operator: You can get calls about this "emergency" alongside a few more false positives for each emergency service (i.e. someone suffering from indigestion believing it's something way worse and that they need a medic) to provide contrast with the genuinely serious reports. its sequel, 112 Operator adds a level to them. For example, hanging up on someone calling for a cat up a tree may result in that person trying to rescue the cat themselves, falling badly in the attempt, and then needing an ambulance.
  • 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.
  • 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 it's not stuck in a tree.
  • In DC Universe Online, the Joker's Jokandroids may mock Player Characters by asking if they have a cat in a tree to save.
  • 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.
  • 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 cat is stuck in a tree is part of the trading sequence in one of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games.
  • LEGO Dimensions: A mission in the Mission: Impossible world has Ethan Hunt sent to rescue kitties from trees (since the cats are endangering IMF agents by drawing attention with their plaintive meowing). Which means he has to disguise himself as a fireman, since it's a well-known fact that only firemen can rescue cats from trees. And in order to disguise Hunt as a fireman, his boss starts a fire to get the fire brigade in.
  • In the first room of Manor Matters, you take in an orange cat who’s been living in your fireplace. It somehow gets outside and gets stuck in a tree. You have to obtain a certain amount of stars to rescue it.
  • 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.
  • The first dispatch mission you can send recruits on in MySims Agents involves a cat up a tree.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scribblenauts: Recurring puzzle in the series.
  • SimCity:
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • Bad Days has the Justice League of America struggle to help a girl get her cat out of a tree. After many an Epic Fail, the Teen Titans ultimately succeed in doing so.
  • Minilife TV: In the episode "That's So Gay!", Chris and Ian try to make their gay friend, Todd McFabulous, look heroic by helping him save a suicidal cat from a tree.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: A variation. Epic-Man saves a "poorly drawn alien cat" from falling to its death in the trailer, though it isn't confirmed if it's falling from a tree or something like a building.
  • The Simon's Cat short "The Tree" has the eponymous cat getting stuck in this manner, leading to Simon attempting to rescue him... and getting stuck himself, naturally.
  • X-Ray & Vav do this at the very beginning of the first episode.
  • Rescuing cats from trees is discussed as a thought exercise in explaining how video games usually present moral choices in Zero Punctuation.

  • Beatrix gets stuck in a tree in Breaking Cat News, and is rescued by a mail carrier. Elvis, the resident grouch, is so happy to see her that he hugs said mail carrier.
  • Appears in this Buttersafe strip. One scene has Annabelle ask a firefighter to rescue her cat from the tree. The firefighter replies that he can't help because he needs to put out the fires at her house.
  • Hark! A Vagrant shows us how Wonder Woman deals with this!
  • Kevin & Kell has had that happen quite a few times:
    • In one strip it's shown that a cat from an opposing school's hunting team got stuck up a tree.
    • Kell ends up rescuing a kitten from a tree, convincing it that she means no harm by speaking to it in feline (for context, she's a wolf). The rescue ended up going viral.
    • Later, that same kitten gets stuck again and Douglas Squirrel rescues it this time. Unfortunately, the journalist that comes to interview him realizes he's D.B. Cooper and turns him in. (Not that he minded much, his first act upon being exposed was to tell Dorothy to send his manuscript to every publisher in New York.)
    • Aby's ex Manxwell ends up chased up a tree... by a shark. Granted, said shark was one of Herd Thinners' lawyers, but still.
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Good Girl, being such a... good girl, regularly saves cats from trees. This becomes problematic when a villain with telekinetic control over cats start wreaking havoc.
  • Let's Get Divorced!: To the consternation of Mi-yeon and Hyeon, Baek-hui climbs up a tree to rescue a cat. The branch breaks and she sprains her ankle.
  • Magick Chicks has several bouts of this, starting with a Catapult Nightmare Mellissa has on the very first page.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Sandor Clegane rescues a cat from a tree in this strip, complaining all the way.
  • Nip and Tuck: A visiting firefighter from the city is asked to rescue what turns out to be a hand-raised wildcat.
  • The Werewolf of London, Ontario exhibits the dangers of saving cats from trees in this strip from Spinnerette.
  • In S.S.D.D., Naps found that his heritage helped him shimmer up telephone poles when placing his illegal wiretaps, but getting down is another matter.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The bonus comic from one of the printed books involves the team's cat getting stuck in a tree. Since the protagonists are a six-person team exploring a deserted area days, if not weeks, away from the nearest inhabited area, they need to figure out how to get the cat down themselves.
  • Swords: In "Just a Sprout After All", Quest Sprout and the Sword Dragon he's riding in search of a worthwhile quest decide against joining an epic battle against the Demon King in favor of just saving a cat up a tree.
  • Toonhole: In "Cat Stuck In Tree", a young girl asks the police to rescue her cat from a tree. Unfortunately, she says that the cat is black, which leads to the police shooting at the tree.

    Web Original 
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Videos 
  • 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 
  • Rita, from the Rita and Runt segments of Animaniacs (1993) once got herself stuck in a tree.
  • 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.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
  • Papa Bear does this in The 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.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Buzz Lightyear seems to think that his archnemesis Emperor Zurg is responsible for whenever this happens, as evidenced in his exchange with his partner in the pilot movie:
    Buzz Lightyear: This diabolical plot can only be the work of the sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance — Evil Emperor Zurg!
    Warp Darkmatter: What plot?! You think Zurg is behind every kitten stuck up a tree!
    Buzz Lightyear: The fiend! Why can't he leave kitty-cats out of his nefarious schemes?
  • Denis and Me: In "Up A Tree", Sir Meows-A-Lot ends up stuck in a tree after chases cucumber aliens up it, and Denis needs to find help in getting him down.
  • 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.
  • The John Dilworth short The Dirdy Birdy has a bird named Purdy try to court a cat named Fergurina by mooning her. Fergurina is depicted living inside a tree.
  • DuckTales:
    • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Glenn Martin DDS: When Glenn wants to be a volunteer fireman, part of the test involves helping a cat stuck in a tree. Glenn gets stuck in the tree and the cat goes down the ladder by himself.
  • 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 Lion Guard: At one point in the episode, "Beshte and The Beast," the main Lion Guard (Kion, Fuli, Bunga, Ono, and Beshte) and Shujaa, a silverback gorilla who Does Not Know His Own Strength, find a cat who is stuck in a tree that is home to galagos (a small primate also known as bushbabies). Unlike almost all other examples, the cat in question is a serval. Shujaa saves the serval carefully, but accidentally flings the galagos out.
  • 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.
  • In the Mickey Mouse episode, "New Shoes", Mickey in Goofy's body uses his new height to help a little girl get her kitten out of a tree.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Ladybug is shown doing this in one episode via flashback.
    • Would-be non-powered hero "The Owl" tries to do this, but ends up needing the actual heroes to rescue him. At the end of the episode, having set more reasonable goals for himself, he calls the fire department.
  • 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.
  • Peg + Cat: Cat gets stuck in a tree in the episodes "The Tree Problem" and "Another Tree Problem".
  • Parodied on Phineas and Ferb, in the episode "The Beak".
    Buford: Help! My nerd is stuck in a tree!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Rocketeer: "Skyway Robbery" starts with Richard climbing a tree to rescue his cat. Both the cat and the kid end up being rescued by Rocketeer.
  • 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.
  • Discussed in an episode of Rugrats (1991) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In the Stanley episode, "Baby Pictures", one picture of Elsie as a kitten is of her stuck in a tree and Mr. Griff having to get her down. Harry finds this picture funny, but Elsie doesn't.
  • 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?
  • 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.
    • In "Prototype", a police officer in Powered Armor helps Superman rescue people from a burning skyscraper. At one point he appears to be trapped inside but he's just stopped to rescue a cute kitten, to the adoration of the crowd which he shamelessly panders to.
  • In one episode of Sushi Pack, Tako and Maguro save a boy's cat from a tree.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • In one episode of Underdog, Riff Raff and his gang decide to go out west causing the city's crime rate to plummet. Pretty much the only thing left for Underdog to do was to rescue cats from trees.

    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 Moment of Awesome for the cat, can be found here.
  • The Zoo Neuwied once had a cheetah stuck in a tree. For cats they are not terribly good climbers due to having blunt, non-retractable claws like dogs. 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.
    • In Florida, where the non-native green iguana is gaining a foothold in the state, it's becoming increasingly common in winter to see them falling out of trees in a stunned state, as the low temperatures force them to go into torpor, then presumably lose their grip.
  • During a particularly bad drought in South Africa, a wildlife filmmaker caught a lioness climbing a tree (highly unusual, as their weight makes climbing difficult for lions) in pursuit of the antelope that a leopard had stashed in it. She succeeded in knocking the carcass to the ground, where the other lions in her pride quickly ate it, but then got stuck herself. Tragically, when she tried to get down from the tree she lose her balance and fell, breaking her back on a limb of the tree and dying as a result. When her body finally fell out of the tree, her pride-mates were so hungry they ate her as well.
  • A koala once snuck into an Australian family's home, climbed their artificial Christmas tree, and got tangled up in the lights. The family called a koala rescue organization to free her.


Video Example(s):


Mr. Wolf's First Good Deed

Notorious criminal Mr. Wolf takes his first step in becoming a hero by doing a selfless act: saving a cat that's stuck up a tree.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / CatUpATree

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