In his rescue video below, Simon shows clearly why cats get stuck in trees: when they don't know how to climb down backward (and, sometimes, even when they do), it is very difficult and scary when they don't have full control over their footing and descent. It is so much safer and easier to just stay put in the tree.
Simon is a three-month-old tabby boy who was stuck in a tree in his front yard near Bunkie, Louisiana, and he and his family were all very upset and distressed about it. They did their best to get Simon down, but the only thing Simon knew to do was go higher. When I arrived after his second night in the tree, Simon was 50 feet high. (The tree is larger than it appears in the photo.)
I set my rope about 40 feet high in the tree with the plan to advance higher from there. I was concerned about being able to get into a position where I could reach Simon, but Simon made it all very easy for me. Once he saw me climbing up to him, he got so excited that he came down to me. That desperate boy overcame his fear and worked his way down toward me while repeatedly losing and then regaining his grip on the stem. I caught only the last few feet of his descent on camera, but that was the most difficult and scary part of it because that was the steepest part of the stem. He lost and regained his footing again and eventually settled into the crotch where he finally felt more secure. At that point, after our proper introductions, I held the carrier up to him, and he readily walked inside for the ride back down to the ground. An hour later, after he had settled back into home, he took a nap with his favorite cuddle-buddy.
Video Discretion Advised: Cats in your house may find Simon's vocalizations disturbing.