Whether your cat is playing, leaping, or escaping from a sticky situation, your pet has a knack of almost always landing on its feet. Perhaps you’ve wondered how your cat manages to pull off such graceful landings every time. And you’ll be intrigued to know that much more than mere luck is at play here. Discover the science of why cats almost always land on their feet.
Cats Have Impeccable Balance
If you’ve ever spotted your kitty walking across a dangerously narrow ledge or perched in a spot that seems impossible to reach, you’ve observed your cat’s innate talent for keeping itself balanced. Most cats rely on their tails for help staying on their feet, and their inner ears send warning signals the moment they’re off balance. Cats’ quick reactions help them right any balance issues immediately.
Cats Instinctively Slow Down Their Falls
When cats fall, they don’t simply plummet to the ground. Instead, they naturally flatten out their bodies, which helps slow the speed of a fall and allows more time for them to right their positions. For most cats, the combination of a relatively small structure, light bones, and thick fur also helps slow their velocity.
Cats Have a Supernatural Ability to Right Themselves
Cats have remarkably flexible backs, which can essentially allow them to bend and rotate their front and back halves independently. Their flexible spines enable cats to rotate the two halves of their bodies in opposite directions if necessary, depending on their positions when they fall and the orientation of the ground below.
Cats can rely on either their inner ear’s sense of balance or their sightlines to determine the right landing position when they fall. Since their innate balance kicks in right away and they twist and turn quickly, cats can find and land on their feet almost every time.
Cats Naturally Protect Themselves From Fall-Related Injuries
When cats fall, they can often shake off any hint of injury immediately, especially when they land on their feet. Cats’ legs and extended claws naturally absorb the shock of any fall they experience, which can help your pet avoid serious injuries or broken bones.
Cats Aren’t Immune to Getting Hurt
No matter how adept your cat is at landing on its feet, it isn’t immune to getting hurt. Kittens are most prone to fall-related injuries since they don’t yet have practice righting themselves. Younger cats also tend to distract more easily, which can prevent them from reacting quickly.
Distance can also affect your cat’s chances of getting hurt. You might assume that a higher fall would be more likely to cause injury. But the opposite tends to be true. Shorter falls may not give cats enough time to right themselves and could lead to serious injury.
Your cat’s natural sense of balance and ability to land upright gives it ample protection from falls. But do your best to help your kitty avoid injury. Keep windows closed and screens secure to prevent your cat from losing its balance and falling.