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Do Cats Land On Their Feet

An Innate Ability Supported By Skeletal Differences

A cats inborn talent to reorient its body while falling is called an aerial righting reflex. It begins to appear in kittens when theyre about 3 weeks old, and is highly developed if not perfected at around 7 weeks of age.

However, this innate skill wouldnt be possible without the support of some unique skeletal features. The feline skeleton combines tiny rudimentary collarbones and shoulder blades connected to the body by muscles with a long, unusually supple spine . As a result, cats can twist their bodies to a much greater extent than other animals, squeeze through tight spaces and run with an extended stride.

If Cats Are So Good At Touchdown Why Do They Get Caught Up Timber/roofs/phone Poles

Simply because cats can climb issues doesnt imply they like to throw themselves off of them. As famous earlier, cats could land on their ft after a fall however having the ability to land on ones ft has little to do with one surviving a fall. With that in thoughts, any cat caught at top will try to climb down safely. Falls, as with most of us, are unintended and never the popular technique of disengaging.


Weve All Heard The Turn Of Phrase That Cats Always Land On Their Feet Pets Magazine Investigates If There Is Any Truth To The Saying

There is no doubt youve heard a lot of myths and idiomatic expressions about cats: black cats are bad luck, cats have nine lives etc. One of the most common that a cat always lands on its feet is something we humans have been pondering for quite a while. Cats are certainly agile and graceful. They can walk along the thinnest edge without a wobble in sight, but can they fall from a great height, land unscathed and live to tell the tale?

Historically speaking

Its believed that domesticated cats have been living among humans for millennia. Evidence supporting this came from an archaeological dig on the island of Cyprus, where a cats jawbone that was estimated to be more than 8000 years old was found. This suggests that domestication had occurred by this time and cats were comfortable living among humans. The Egyptians followed and elevated cats to the status of demi-gods. Ancient Egyptian cats lived contented lives, happily connected in stature with gods and goddesses and even being buried in graves with their masters. Cats have been our long-term companions, and weve subsequently been keen observers of their behaviour.

High-rise syndrome

High-rise syndrome is the relatively recent phenomenon of cats falling from a height higher than 89m, or two storeys. Cats often fall from heights after being startled off their perch. If you live in a high-rise building, even if youre just on the second floor, keep your cat away from open windows and balconies.

How Do I Protect My Cat From Falling

There are ways to prevent your cat from falling from dangerous heights. If you live in an and have a young cat, it is important for you to keep their safety in mind. Be sure your windows and screens are secure from your curious cat. Keep windows closed if secured screens dont exist. Be sure all roommates and landlords know not to open any windows or balconies that are not cat-safe. Be careful of letting your cat hang out on a deck or balcony . Even if your cat seems to not be interested in exploring the edge of the balcony, it can take just one bird or bee to pique their interest and cause them to go tumbling off.

If your cat falls from a window and survives, they may go hide nearby, making it hard for you to find them. Your local shelter will have useful tips on how to find your lost furry friend again. Any cat that falls from high heights should be monitored for injury. Cats are masters at masking injury and illness, so a trip to the veterinarian and an X-ray may be important to ensure your cat is healthy and happy.

The Enduring Puzzle Of Why Cats Always Land On Their Feet

Do Cats Always Land On Their Feet

How do falling cats always manage to land on their feet? It is a puzzle that seems like it should be easy to answer with modern physics, but it took a surprising amount of time for physicists to solve the mystery and there are still things we can learn from the falling cat problem today.

Research into the physics of the cats ability often referred to as the cat-righting reflex is almost as old as physics itself.

The first research paper to tackle the subject was published in the year 1700 by a French scientist named Antoine Parent. For context, Isaac Newton was still alive at the time and his groundbreaking physics work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was only 13 years old.

Parents interests were far from feline falls: he was investigating how buoyant objects move and rotate while sinking to an equilibrium position. Almost as an afterthought, Parent suggested that, just as a weighted object might flip heavy-side-down in water due to the clash of gravity and an upward buoyant force, a cat in freefall might adjust its spine to flip itself over, moving its centre of gravity above the centre of buoyancy.

Read more about cats:

The physics community, however, had moved on to new explanations. In the early 1800s, there was a growing recognition that certain fundamental quantities in nature are conserved in any physical process.

Read more about physics:

How Far Can A Cat Fall And Land On Its Feet

Well this is a question that really cant be studied because obviously, safety. Also, the question itself is a bit flawed because, really, any of us can fall from any height and land on our feet. That doesnt mean we will land on our feet and live.

With that in mind, an 1987 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reviewed cases of cats that had fallen from various heights to get an idea of the how far is too far scenario when it came to cats. It looked at 132 cases of cats who survived falls from an average height of 5.5 stories and determined that of the cats would not have survived without emergency medical treatment.

Confused by the fact that many cats survived higher falls, while others succumbed to lower falls, researchers came to the conclusion that terminal velocity for a kitty was reached after falling about seven stories.  At the point of terminal velocity the object stops accelerating so researchers guess that it gave a cat time to relax their body and also have time to spread out their legs in a sort of parachute form, allowing for slow down and, perhaps, better distribution of weight upon impact.

Just a reminder that these studies werent looking at how far a cat could fall and land on its feet. They were looking at how far a cat could fall and survive.

Courtesy Dwight Sipler, Wikimedia Commons

Why Do Cats Always Land On Their Feet

Phil Kesten

A falling cat usually lands on her feet. This remarkable ability depends on two deeply fundamental aspects of physics. Lets wonder a bit about falling cats.

In 1894, French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey used a new photographic technique to take a series of photos that documented one of the animal kingdoms wonders: a falling cat flipping over to land safely on its feet. The series of high speed photos, reproduced in Nature two years later, show the cat released with its legs pointing skyward and landing gently on all fours.

Photographs of a Tumbling Cat, Nature 51, 1308, 80-81, 22 November 1894.


But while Mareys photos documented the amazing trick, the bigger question remained: how do cats do it?

To start, lets consider some physics that youve almost certainly observed. Watch any Olympic ice skaters routineIll pick Kristi Yamaguchis 1992 gold medal performance in Albertville, Franceand youre bound to see a skater execute a spin on the tip of one of her skates. As Kristi pulls her arms and hands in closer to her body, she spins faster and faster.

First, a rotating object spins faster when more of its mass is brought closer to the axis around which the rotation occurs. And second, for every rotating system there is a physics quantity that will always stay the same if no external agent acts on the system.

Finally, she full extends her back legs to slow and stop the rotation of her lower bodyta-dah!



How Does The Height Of The Fall Affect The Landing

The height of the cats fall has a large part to play in if cats always land on their feet. A study done in 1987 by the New York City Animal Medical Centre analysed vet records of cats that had fallen from multi-storey buildings and found some incredible statistics. Most of them landed on concrete, and yet 90% of all the cats studied survived the fall, and only 37% of those required emergency care.

But it was the height of the fall that most affected the outcome. Cats who fell from between 7 and 32 stories suffered less injuries, while those who fell between 2 and 6 stories sustained more injuries. Amazingly, a cat that fell a whopping 32 stories and landed on concrete was released after 48 hours with only a chipped tooth and a minor lung puncture.

Scientists think that the higher the fall, the more time cats have to be able to right themselves. Its also believed that they reach a maximum velocity of around 60mph, which is much slower than humans at about 120mph. Once they reach this stage they begin to relax and stretch their legs out much like how a flying squirrel does which expands their body size and creates air resistance. Its almost like cats can turn themselves into little parachutes, which increases drag resistance!

If Cats Are So Good At Landing Why Do They Get Stuck In Trees / Roofs / Telephone Poles

Just because cats can climb things doesnt mean they prefer to jump on them. As noted above, cats can land on their feet after a fall, but being able to land on their feet has little to do with surviving a fall. With that in mind, any cat caught in height will attempt to descend safely. Falls, like most of us, are accidental and are not the preferred method of disconnection.

Everyone’s Heard The Saying ‘cats Always Land On Their Feet’ But Is There Any Truth In It Keep Reading To Find Out How They Manage To Do It And The Amazing Science Behind It

Everyone has heard the saying cats always land on their feet and that this ability means they can survive falls from incredible heights. Some people think its due to cats incredible balance, and others secretly think its magic. Its a phenomenon that has certainly puzzled scientists for centuries!

But is it true, or simply an urban myth? Keep reading to find out if cats always land on their feet and how they do it.


Cats And The Righting Reflex

The righting reflex in cats is related to their vestibular apparatus which is located inside the ear. Normally, it is used to control balance and orientation and makes sure that your cat knows what way up they are. They work out that they are upside down very quickly! Then, they rotate their head to make it the right way up and their agile body follows instantly.

So, how can cats be so agile? It starts with their skeletal structure the cat skeleton is wonderfully unique. They have no collarbone which makes them able to twist their upper body in a way that we humans cannot. They also have an incredibly flexible spine which is made up of 30 vertebrae. These two factors work together to help a cat correct their position as they fall. The spine arches and their feet go underneath their body. At the same time, their forepaws are drawn close to their face to protect it. Cats also have a low body to weight ratio which helps to slow down their falling velocity and also helps them to land on their feet.

Why Do Cats Land On Their Feet Do They Always

Cats are well designed to move around skillfully at great heights, whether they are hunting prey or trying to evade predators. However, this puts them at risk of falling from dangerous heights. Luckily, cats have evolved a way to protect themselves from injuries caused by falling, and that is their ability to right themselves in mid-air and land on their feet. It is commonly assumed that cats always land on their feet after a fall, and this is part of the reason why many people say the phrase cats have nine lives. Having the ability to right themselves after a fall is known as the cat righting reflex, which is tied to the cats anatomy. In this article, we will explore this phenomenon further.

The Buttered Cat Paradox

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Just as a cat almost always lands on its feet, its pessimistcally accepted that buttered toast will always land butter-side down.

Toast, of course, lacks a righting reflex, so its tendency to land butter-side down can be attributed to the fact that it usually falls at an angle and most dining tables are about waist high. Therefore, when the buttered toast slips from a plate, it can manage only half a rotation before hitting the floor.

The buttered cat paradox arises when you consider what would happen if you attached a piece of buttered toast to a cats back and then dropped the feline.

According to the faux paradox, the cats fall will slow as it nears the ground and the animal will begin to rotate. Eventually, it’ll come to a stop but hover over the ground as it perpetually turns from cat-feet side to buttered-toast side.

What Are The Advantages Of Having The Righting Reflex

The righting reflex helps cats survive falls from high places with few injuries. However, there is a limit to the effectiveness of this reflex. One study found that a cats likelihood to be injured after a fall increased with every additional story they fell from. Cats that fell from 5.5 stories or less had a 90% survival rate, although some of these cats suffered from injuries . Cats that fell from stories higher than seven stories may suffer from more severe injuries, or even instant death.

Body Weight And Surface Area

In addition to the righting reflex, cats bodies have evolved to climb up trees and fall from them safely. As a result, their overall body enhances the righting reflex and safety whenever they fall from great heights.

For one thing, cats have a unique skeletal system. They dont have a collar bone, and their backbone is incredibly flexible, complete with 30 vertebrae. This skeletal system is very important for the righting reflex. Being so flexible, the cat can quickly correct themselves without injuring their bones.

More so, cats are incredibly light in comparison to their surface area. By having a greater surface area than bodyweight, cats can slow their velocity whenever they are falling. When this happens, they have more time to react to the fall and adjust their bodies to act more like a parachute.

A cats maximum velocity is nearly half that of a human. Cats reach a maximum velocity of 60 mph. Humans, in comparison, reach a maximum velocity at 120 mph. In other words, cats have a slower velocity because of their weight to body ratio.

Not All Falls Are Equal

A cats ability to right itself midair and safely land on its feet is certainly impressive, but certain falls can be dangerous or even deadly for a cat.

Typically, felines that fall from greater heights, such as more than five floors, tend to suffer less severe injuries than those falling from just a couple stories. The longer freefall gives cats more time to right themselves and position their bodies correctly.

In 1987, New York Citys Animal Medical Center conducted a study of felines that had fallen from tall buildings. While 90 percent of the animals survived, most suffered serious injuries, but the cats that fell from heights of seven to 32 stories were less likely to die than those that fell from two to six stories.

Why Cats Land On Their Feet

Contrary to popular belief, falling cats do not always land on their feet. In fact, every day cats sustain serious injuries from out of open windows, off balconies, and from rooftops. Cats do not fear heights and will often leap after a bird or a butterfly only to find themselves falling through the air. The trauma sustained from a fall of over two stories is known as high-rise syndrome.

If a cat falls a short distance, he can usually right himself and land on his feet. If he falls more than one or two floors, however, he may sustain injury. Although he can right himself, his legs and feet cannot absorb the shock.

Cats have exceptional coordination and balance and a flexible musculoskeletal system. They are normally able to orient their bodies in space in such a way as to land on all four . This is what happens when a cat falls:

  • The cat determines which way is up and rotates the head until it is right side up.
  • He brings the front legs up close to the face, ready to protect it from impact.
  • He twists the upper part of the to bring the front half of his body around in line with the head.
  • However, whether or not a cat lands on his feet depends on several factors, including the distance he falls and the surface on which he falls.

    The Cat Righting Reflex What Is It And How Does It Work

    This nearly alien ability has confounded researchers since the beginning of researching. Basically, the cat-righting reflex is how cats bodies naturally right themselves during a fall, giving the cat the best chance to land at the ready. The folks at Science Focuspoint out that Research into the physics of the cats ability often referred to as the cat-righting reflex is almost as old as physics itself.  The first study of the cat-righting reflex came in 1700 courtesy of the daring French scientist Antoine Parent. Parent was looking to define the physics of buoyancy and equilibrium and came to the conclusion that a weighted object in water might right itself the same way a falling cat would.

    Being that this writer has no business attempting to translate the language of physics into the language of RPT well just say from here that Parent had a good idea, but his physics were off.

    Basically, it turned out scientists had been approaching their theories by considering the subject solid. Anyone who has a cat knows while they have bones, they are most definitely squishy, squirmy, fit-through-most-anything solid. Scientists had neglected at that time to account for cats lack of bodily rigidity.

    Courtesy Takashi Hososhima, Wikimedia Commons.

    How Do Cats Land On Their Feet

    Cats are special – but you knew that already. What we are here to talk about today, specifically, is their ability to alwayswell almost always, fall on their feet.

    This unique ability amongst the feline world has now been clearly demonstrated in BBCs Life in the Air series.

    The ability for a cat to fall on its feet is commonly known as the Cat Righting Reflex and is due, in large part, to their incredibly flexible backbone and lack of functional collarbone. This allows cats to spin their front half of their body in one direction, whilst simultaneously spinning their back half in the opposite direction and creating a motion that brings their body falling feet first.

    Check out the BBC video for a more in-depth look at an African Caracal landing on its feet!

    Besides the age-old adage of the buttered cat paradox and keeping in mind that kittens dont perfect the skill of falling until roughly 6-7 weeks of age if your cat cant seem to land on its feet all too often, there may be an underlying concern such as an ear infection or neurological problem that should be inspected closer by your veterinarian.

    Does Fall Height Matter

    Even with the righting reflex, the height of the fall impacts the cats ability to land on its feet dramatically. When it comes to humans, higher falls tend to lead to the most injuries. With cats, however, falls from higher heights often result in fewer injuries.

    According to a 1987 study, many records were analyzed to see how height affects a cats ability to land. In all of these records, the cats fell from multistory buildings. A whopping 90% of cats survive the fall. Meanwhile, only 37% of them needed emergency care afterward.

    Interestingly, cats that fell between 7 and 32 stories suffered fewer injuries than cats that fell between 2 and 6 stories. One cat even fell at 32 stories, landed on concrete, and only received a few injuries, including a chipped tooth and a minor puncture to the lung.

    Most scientists believe that falling from greater heights gives cats more time to respond. When falling from greater heights, they can correct themselves earlier on and then respond to the fall much as a flying squirrel does.

    Because of its greater air resistance and slower velocity, a cat can stretch its legs out, relax, and increase drag resistance. This increased drag resistance makes the fall less hard, resulting in fewer injuries.

    Exploring The Declare That Cats At All Times Land On Their Ft

    Why Do Cats Always Land On Their Feet?

    Cats are nearly supernatural of their many powers. Amongst these is their capacity to leap tall buildings in a single certainbut additionally fall as fancifully as they bounded up. Its true that cats all the time land on their ft and this talent is one thing that has confounded scientists for millenia. Lets take a deeper look into the feline superpower thats the cat-righting reflex.

    Why Do Cats Land On Their Feet

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    Whether myth, miracle or marvel of physics, the idea of a cat always landing on his feet is firmly embedded in feline lore. It’s as if cats possess invisible landing gear, and no matter their size, they can turn a tumble into a right-side up touchdown. Tabbies overshooting windowsills in quest of passing birds, or miscalculating fences as they run from barking dogs, appear to regain perfect balance without effort, an action that long baffled observers — until frame-by-frame photos, and video in slow motion, unveiled the details of this uncanny feline habit.

    That’s not to say cats land without harm. Falling cats do sometimes suffer injuries, and not all cats survive falls, particularly older, less agile ones. Thanks to science and technology, here’s what else we now know about cats’ aerodynamic abilities.

    Do Other Animals Have A Righting Reflex

    Many animals besides cats also have an aerial righting reflex, including squirrels, rabbits, dogs, guinea pigs, and primates. There might even be evidence that this reflex is present in reptiles and invertebrates . If we think of the ability of bigger animals versus smaller animals in how high they climb compared to their body size, it would make sense that the righting reflex is present in smaller animals like the ones listed here.

    Dont Let Your Cat Fall

    Even though cats have an instinct to land on their feet when they fall, you certainly shouldnt push your cat off a ledge or put them in some type of scenario where they could fall. As we mentioned initially, the righting reflex doesnt guarantee that the cat will land on its feet. Instead, the reflex only makes it more likely.

    The last thing you want is to put your cat in unnecessary danger. Make sure to keep your pet cat safe, healthy, and away from open ledges. This is especially true of old and overweight cats. Their bodies are not of optimal ability to land safely, even with the righting reflex.


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