Cats are often observed jumping from great distances, and most cats are able to land on their feet. However, have you ever asked yourself whether cats always land on their feet?
Basically, each cat’s ability to land on his feet is based on the height of the fall, as it plays a role in whether the cat will have a chance to right himself and absorb the shock of the landing without personal injury. A cat’s ability to reorient his body mid-fall is called the “righting reflex.” This ability is usually developed by the time a cat is 7 weeks old!
Cats use the following body parts to correct for a fall:
- vestibular apparatus in their inner ears to know which way is up
- their unusually flexible spines (with 30 vertebrae) to correct their positions during freefall
- front paws that are positioned close to the face to protect from impact
- leg joints that bear the weight of the impact
- low body-volume-to-weight ratio so they can slow their velocity when falling
It has been determined that cats falling from greater heights tend to suffer less severe injuries than those falling from lesser heights. Typically, a fall from greater than 5 floors gives cats the time they need to right themselves and position their bodies in a safe manner.