• Question: Why do cats always land on their feet?

    Asked by ciaranking to Andrew, Aggelos, Eileen, Naomi, Shane on 14 Nov 2012. This question was also asked by sarahbrannigan, tkhan.
    • Photo: Andrew Jackson

      Andrew Jackson answered on 14 Nov 2012:

      Cats are very agile and can twist their body around quickly to land on their feet should they fall

    • Photo: Aggelos Zacharopoulos

      Aggelos Zacharopoulos answered on 15 Nov 2012:

      it is the same as a toasted slice of bread with butter and jam on it. It will always land with the jam face down if you drop it!

    • Photo: Eileen Diskin

      Eileen Diskin answered on 16 Nov 2012:

      Great question! Cats like we have as pets today are related to the ones in the wild – like leopards, and lions. These kinds of cats were especially good at hunting, and were very good at going up into the trees. Because of this…they also had to be very good at going back down onto the ground!

      So this is something that today’s cats that we have as pets are also good at. When they fall, they twist their body in a very precise ways. Scientists have studied this using slow-motion photography, and found out that it always happens in exactly the same way!

      First they turn their head (based on the off-balance signals that their brain is sending out!), then their spine and legs. The cat arches its back a bit, which helps it hurt less when its feet hit the ground. And I think thats how it all works!

    • Photo: Naomi Elster

      Naomi Elster answered on 16 Nov 2012:

      They are agile, as Andrew said, and also they have very good balance – if you look at cats you’ll see that they rarely fall. They mostly jump, which gives them time to plan their landing.