How Cats Defy Gravity

A BBC magazine article attempts to answer age-old question: how do cats survive falling from great heights?:

From the moment they’re in the air to the instant after they hit the ground, cats’ bodies are built to survive high falls, scientists say.

They have a relatively large surface area in proportion to their weight, thus reducing the force at which they hit the pavement.

Cats reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the downward tug of gravity is matched by the upward push of wind resistance, at a slow speed compared to large animals like humans and horses.

For instance, an average-sized cat with its limbs extended achieves a terminal velocity of about 60mph (97km/h), while an average-sized man reaches a terminal velocity of about 120mph (193km/h), according to the 1987 study…’

Does that mean that if you fall from a roof stretching out your arms would help? I don’t know but I have treated cats that have fallen from far lower heights and sustained severe life-threatening injuries. So trying this at home may not be a good idea.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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