Cats are considered as one of the cutest pets and there are numerous reasons to love them. It’s such a pleasure to watch them when they rub up against the owner or meowing to communicate, or scratching surfaces to sharpen its claws. Their behaviour fails not to gain our full attention. They love to relax and often occupies its place on a blanket, or on the top of any soft object and even on our laps. Another interesting ability of the cats is they can survive falls from incredible heights. Their incredible balance makes us surprised. But if you carefully observe you can see that they can give high jump land on their feet without any difficulty. The scientists have researched for a long time to discover how the cats land on their feet.
How Cats Manage to Land on Their Feet?
Scientists say the cats have the ability to turn themselves the right way around during the fall to land safely on their feet. It is known as righting reflex. There is an organ called vestibular apparatus inside the cat’s ear which helps to balance and quickly figure out which way is up. Their skeletal structure is also exceptional as they have no collarbone. The backbone of the small animal is also very flexible with 30 vertebrae. Because of the flexibility they can rotate themselves easily during a fall. Their low body to weight ratio helps cats to land on their feet as it manages to slow their velocity while falling.
Cat Righting Reflex
A cat gains its righting reflex ability at the age of 3-4 weeks and is perfected at 6-7 weeks. A cat mostly moves its hind legs and relies on conservation of angular momentum to set up for landing. At first, a cat determines down visually from and then bends in the middle. The angle helps to rotate the front half of the body about a different axis from the rear half. To decrease the moment of inertia of the front half of the body, cats tuck their front legs and extend their rear legs to increase the moment of inertia. Thus they rotate their rear half further while their front half rotates in the opposite direction little.
The New York City Animal Medical Center, in a study in 1987 analyzed records of cats that had fallen from multistoried buildings. They discovered some incredible statistics in their study. 90% of all the cats survived without any injury only a few needed emergency care. Surprisingly, cats who fell from 7 and 32 stories suffered fewer injuries compared to those who fell between 2 and 6 stories. According to the scientists, the ability of the cats to right themselves gets increased with the higher fall as they get more time. However, overweight cats face more difficulty to land on their feet as the extra weight reduces their ability to right themselves in the air.