Here’s a blog from Lucy Goo Pet Sitting!
Team Goo’s Dillon Piper
Cats are one of the most mysterious house hold pets we have come to know. From their sandpaper tongues, lighting fast speed, incredible flexibility, and intelligent minds, cats prompt a list of questions from many pet owners. Lucy Goo Petsitting is here to help you with some of your questions, and figure out some of the “whys” and “hows” of our feline friends.
Kitty… how do you fall upside down and land on your feet… ALL THE TIME?!?!?!?!?!?
A cat’s lack of a collar bone and a very loose jointed flexible spinal cord are the culprits here. This anatomy allows cats to possess a trait called “Labyrinthine righting reflex” or “righting reflex”. Essentially, righting reflex allows a cat to squirm into a centered, orientated position feet first and upright as close as twelve inches to the ground (seconds from landing) so they land on their feet. This reflex starts developing about four weeks after birth and completes development at about nine weeks. This might make you wonder why you may have seen cats fall from rather great heights and still seemingly be okay. This comes down to three things:
- The density of a cats bone structure
- Their leg muscles and joints
- The height at which it fell or jumped
A cats bone structure is very light in weight and its body is covered in soft fur so the velocity a cat obtains as it falls is rather light compared to heavier animals. Interestingly enough, when cats are falling they spread their body out similar to a skydiver and reduce their speed and increase drag. This also helps slow down the velocity at which they fall thus reducing the force of impact. A cats muscular legs also soften their landing quite a bit as well and provide good shock absorption protecting the rest of the body. Cat’s joints can bend sideways to help soften impact with the ground. That said, there is a limit. A cat falling from heights greater than one hundred feet may still land on its feet, but will likely suffer internal damage or broken bones. Take my word for it, please.
Now let’s talk about their reflexes in general. Those lighting fast paws or their dead sprints in the blink of an eye. Back to what I mentioned earlier, cats are natural born killers. Cats are the traditional hunters of rodents and insects since their known origin to man. Everything about their anatomy says so and that’s why they are so fast and agile.
- Their senses and body weight
- Neurological system
Cats have very acute senses of hearing, smell, and sight. These senses greatly attribute to their reflexes. Since these senses are so heightened cats can anticipate much faster than many animals which naturally causes a faster reaction and thus a faster reflex. A healthy cats light weight anatomy again attributes to how quickly a cats reflexes are because they are moving much less body weight than other animals. Lastly, a cats reflexes are also so fast because of their neuro system. Almost all living things have a brain and neurological system. Animals have axons which are basically parts of our neuro system that send our muscle reactions to our brains through the nerves throughout our body. How quickly these “messages” are sent is relative to how thick the axon is and how far the message has to travel. Cats have thick axons (thicker than humans) and small bodies which both attribute to their speed and reflexes. All of these things combined make for those cute little ninja cats that we adore so much!
With this extra kitty-cat knowledge, take some time to watch your cat in a new light today…you could probably learn a ninja move or two!