Q: My cat was once feral, but she has lived with me for 14 years now. Recently, she did not return after I let her out, and I can see that she is now living on the roof of my house under the eaves. I have been putting food and water out for her, but she will not let me grab her to bring her in. Do you have any advice about how I might be able to retrieve her?
A: Thanks for getting in touch, and I am very sorry to hear of this kitty’s predicament. I am glad to hear that you are able to get food and water to her and that she seems to have some sort of cover from the elements, but it is clearly important to get her down for her safety.
The first thing I suggest, of course, is that you don’t try to go out on your roof to get her. It may be possible to lure her in, to provide her with a safe option to come down herself, or to trap her.
To try to lure her, I suggest using something very tasty and fragrant that she does not usually eat, like sardines, tuna, or wet dog food. You can start by initially putting a small amount of food out on the roof at arm’s length from the window sill and, if she is interested, put a bit more out a bit closer to the window, then closer and closer on subsequent offerings, until you can get her to come inside. This may take time. The goal is to not try to grab her and spook her but rather to have her come in on her own.
Another idea that I have seen work, if possible depending upon your roof, is to lean a long piece of lumber at as shallow an angle as possible against your house to the roof so that she can use it as a bridge to get down herself.
It may also be possible to trap her using a humane trap baited with similarly attractive food depending upon the conformation of your roof (i.e., if there is a flat surface on the roof to place a trap that you can reach).
If these ideas don’t work, consider contacting and hiring a local wildlife rescue or tree trimming service that also offers cat rescues. Contrary to popular belief, most fire departments will not assist in removing cats from high places, as this would make them unavailable to address fires and other emergencies that may arise.
Best of luck, and please send us an update when you can.