Certain cat behaviors can be more readily explained by the size and organization of their brain. The basic form of the felid brain, evolved at least 5 million years ago. Some parts of it, namely the cerebellum is disproportionally geared to process information relating to balance and movement. The cats’ prowess as athletes derives, in part, from this.
Cats are instinctive climbers, and are said to be able to jump six times their own height. I have seen this behavior many times, in fact. Most notably, when I am at a house call and the kitty in question is not confined to a small room or carrier. I have seen them bounce, quite literally, off the ceiling. This behavior evolved to help keep them safe and away from potential predators (in these cases, people like me, perceived as a threat). They also use it to have a high vantage point, explaining why they like to perch on top of your refrigerator or bookcases.
So, the tendency for so many of them to get stuck in trees makes us scratch our heads even more with perplexity. It is not a lack of intelligence nor a poor sense of balance that is to blame. It has been attributed to the fact that their claws all face forward, rendering them unable to use them as brakes as they descend the tree in question. For them to come down, they need to turn around and not so gracefully wiggle butt-first. This may take a few tries to figure out, especially if the spot he has picked is too high for a safe jump. If he was frightened when he headed up, he may have unintentionally climbed higher than usual, causing an additional delay in deciding to leave, and then finding a way down.
If they are not crying or seemingly distressed, no need to worry. They may not be stuck. They may be enjoying the view, getting a lay of the land, whom to avoid, whom to hunt, etc. But, if your cat seems distressed, it may be time to call for help. He may be crying out, in fear or due to thirst or hunger. You may note that he has attempted descent many times, unsuccessfully. This is when you would seek out assistance. Other than the fire department (big ladders), and animal control, there are organizations that may exist in your region to call. In fact, many fire departments are not given the permission nor the authority to help. And they may not be equipped with trained tree climbers, as some of these organizations are.
Www.treecatrescue.com is one such organization. They are based in Florida, but have chapters nationwide. They employ tree climbers who actually enjoy climbing trees.