One of the best lines I have ever heard regarding cats stuck in trees came from the Chief of the LA Fire Deptment when he announced that they would no longer rescue cats from trees.
He said in all my years of being a fireman I have yet to see a cat skeleton in a tree. They come down when they get hungry enough.
Blog editor's note #2: While cats usually do come down, if the cat has been up there for days, it's already quite hungry and it's not likely to find its way down without help.
> Cats are prone to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) when they don't eat for several days. Lacking food, the cat's body starts sending fat cells to the liver to process into lipoproteins for fuel. Cats' livers are not terribly efficient at processing fat, and much of the fat is stored in the liver cells. Left untreated, eventually the liver fails and the cat dies.
> In cases where cats have starved to death before figuring out how to come down, there wouldn't be skeletons in trees, because when the cat dies, it's no longer able to hold onto the tree.
Yes, they come down eventually, but often get seriously or fatally injured in the process. They are capable of getting up (usually being chased up) into places they can’t get down from safely, because their claws allow them to climb vertical tree trunks, but not to stabilize themselves on the way back down the same trunk. By the time they’ve waited a few days, they’re weak from hunger and dehydration (and in some cases, may already be irreversibly on the way to the often deadly hepatic lipidosis), possibly with frostbitten paws in winter, and are very poorly equipped to brace themselves in a hard landing. A cat that breaks its spine or pelvis when falling out of a tree doesn’t end up as a “cat skeleton in a tree”, but ends up dead anyway (hopefully having been found quickly and taken to a vet for euthanasia, but depending on the location, it may die slowly and in pain without being found).