If you are a cat owner, you must have witnessed that 99% of times cats land on their feet when they jump either from great heights or from small heights. Because of their exquisite balance, they don’t get hurt while falling. But what makes them master in balancing? According to the old wives tale, whiskers are the reason behind their magnificent balancing. It’s not true, though whiskers play a vital role to let them squeeze through tight spaces and guide them during the night to bite prey’s neck. Cat’s self-balancing quality has kept our scientists baffled for centuries. Here are three physical characteristics can explain why do cats survive a high-rise fall.
Although their legs look long and slender, they are resilient, muscular, angled and have shock-absorbing capabilities when they hit the ground. That’s why our felines are a pro at jumping as well reaching great heights. Besides this, the nerve endings at the paws are closely packed which make them extremely sensitive, as they send a lot of messages to the brain when paws touch something. Moreover, their angled legs also reduce the impact of force when they hit the ground. ( Read about Cats eyes change with the mood )
Cats are known for their agility. Have you ever wonder what makes them super agile? The answer is flexible back and the absence of true collarbones. They have tiny bits of bones in their shoulders which help them to do catwalk even in the narrow planks. Furthermore, it helps cats to do righting reflex due to which they land on their feet most of the time. Whenever our felines touche the ground, their front legs come in contact first however all four legs mop up the shock. ( Read about What Do Different Cat Sounds Mean?)
The tail also augments the agility of felines by regaining their legs and bodies while falling. They use the tail as a tightrope walker’s pole to balance themselves. So, they can move it left or right as required.
Air righting and body righting mechanism
You may have heard or seen incidents where cats landed perfectly well from more than 6 stories than from lower heights. To unearth the secret behind why do cats usually land on their feet, you need to understand the air righting mechanism and body righting reaction.
Body righting reaction – Body righting reaction is innate in cats. Whenever cats lost their balance, their inner ear lets them know and they start aligning themselves into the correct position with their heads, then their front feet and body follow behind. (Read about Why Do Cats Meow at Nights? )
Air righting reaction – It is the ability of the cats to change their position in mid-air before touching the ground. Cats generally take 4-6 weeks after their birth to learn it. However, after 10-12 weeks of their birth, they become pro in balancing on narrow planks.
Thus, they get enough time to right themselves by spanning their backs, elongating their feet, outspread their limbs, when they fall from great heights. On the contrary, the lower a cat falls from, the higher its chances of getting a significant injury, as she doesn’t get enough time to align herself in a correct position. ( Read about Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much? )