Hey there, fellow cat parents! It’s your feline insider, Ashley, back to scratch beneath the surface of one of the most enduring cat myths – the inimitable ability of cats to always land on their feet, known as the “righting reflex”. It’s a fabulous spectacle, but have you ever wondered how our nimble kitties pull off such a amazing feat?
- Balance and Control: Cats have a unique skeletal structure with a highly flexible backbone and no functional collarbone, which aids their twist-and-turn capability in mid-air. Combined with a sensitive inner ear that maintains balance, they can control and adjust their body during a fall. Our eldest rescue, Fluffball, may not be as agile as before, but he is still a pro at balancing on narrow railings!
- The Righting Reflex: This begins to develop when kittens are about 3 weeks old and is generally perfected by the time they reach 7 weeks. It’s this lightning-fast reflex that allows cats to realize they’re falling, orient themselves upright, arch their back to reduce the force of impact and extend their legs to land as smoothly as possible.
- Airborne Acrobatics: Surprisingly, cats are safer falling from higher places because it gives them more time to twist their body in the right direction. Mouse, one of our shelter’s fearless explorers, once gave me a scare by climbing to the shelter rooftop, but came down with nothing but a calm meow!
While it’s fascinating to see cats effectively use physics to fall gracefully, it’s a myth that they will do so unharmed every time – falls can still result in injuries, especially in senior cats. It’s advisable to ensure windows and high surfaces are secure to prevent any adventurous leaps!
Scientifically understanding our beloved pets helps us appreciate their uncanny skills while reminding us of their vulnerabilities. And while we’re in awe of their acrobatics, let’s remember to create safe, secure environments for our feline friends to thrive in.
Stay pawsitive, and keep tuning in for more insights into our enchanting cats. Keep them nearer, love them deeper, and most importantly – keep them safe, until next time!