Micro Life Zone
Asked by tatch91 to Dirk, Elise, Janette, Renee, Yusuf on 20 May 2012.
Keywords: cat, feet
Cats are able to rotate their bodies while falling even over quite small heights. They do this by quickly alternating bringing their front and back legs towards their body. As one end of their body is all tucked up it can rotate slightly faster than the other end which is extended. As they alternate the movement between their front and back legs, it ‘drags’ them around so that they can land on their feet.
This is known as the cat-righting reflex. Cats have very flexible spines and more vertebra (the bones in the spine) than humans, which enables them to effectively rotate to be the right way up when they fall. Cats are able to sense which way they are using their vesitbular appartus which is located in their ear. When they fall or jump they sense which way their body is, and then can turn their upper body to be going in the right direction, and the rest of their body follows suit.
It also helps they have a light bone structure, and small body, as when they fall this decreases the maximum speed at which they will fall (known as terminal velocity) and the consequent impact on the ground.
It’s actually not 100% true that cats will always land on their feet, though it’s actually pretty rare for them not too, and usually it’s because they lose their balance and fall! If a cat falls from a very small height, or very suddenly it may not have enough time to right itself. And if they fall from a great height, they can still hurt themselves pretty badly even if they do land on their feet.
So while a cat makes it look effortless, it actually is pretty complicated, how they can always seem to land on their feet!
As Renee and Janette said, cats are “twisty” and natural acrobats. They do have to be a certain distance above the ground so they can try to right themselves I think 1 meter was written some where. The main thing is they’d need enough time to twist themselves feet down. But some cats are better at this than others as Janette said, they do not all make it.
I don’t have anything to add here – I am a dog person!
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2020