When someone falls from the fourth or fifth floor, and survives, we call it a miracle. When a cat falls from that height, we watch astonished as it lands on all fours, pauses, then straighten up and walks away looking just a little fazed. What would you call this, a miracle or God’s grace?

Any guesses why cats survive while humans don’t? Well, it all has to do with the in-built ability of a cat to adjust its position during a sudden fall, its light weight and lithe muscular body. While humans tumble uncontrollably and completely lose control over their bodies when they fall, cats are able to straighten themselves even in mid-air and manage to fall on their feet.

Why do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?
Why do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?

A cat called Sabrina fell from the top of a 32-storeyed building and walked away with only a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung! For long, humans have not been able to comprehend a cat’s ability to fall gracefully, till a cat falling from a great height was photographed by a high-speed camera.

This is what the camera filmed: when a cat falls from a great height, on its way down, it extends all four legs sideways as if it is gliding. This exposes a greater surface area to the air below, almost like a tiny parachute.

And because cats are so light, at one point, the speed with which they fall is almost equal to the upward thrust of air and the two get balanced. As a result, the cat continues to fall but at a steady speed, unlike humans who hurtle down with an increasing speed to crash on the ground. This gives the cat a bearing over the situation and it spreads its limbs out like a parachute.

Why do Cats Always Land on Their Feet? [Illustration by Shinod AP]
Why do Cats Always Land on Their Feet? [Illustration by Shinod AP]

Unlike humans, cats do not tumble because of an exceptional sensory system. It immediately tells the cat’s nervous system that it is upside down and falling. Thanks to this, the agile cat twists its body at once for a safer landing. Even its feet are flexed in order to absorb the shock of the fall.

And the cat’s muscles that join and surround its bones make the best shock absorbers ever made!

In fact, the cat’s agility, alertness and swift reaction to emergencies has given it the reputation of surviving no matter what happens.

405 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 7 (12-13 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: 5ws and h
Tags: #cameras, #parachute

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