Do cats really have 9 lives?

Cats always seem to land on their feet after a fall which leads one to believe that a cat has more than 1 life. Cats are intrepid explorers and fearless risk takers. The myth, however, is actually based on their natural suppleness and swiftness to escape a life threatening fall.

How does this happen? In 1894, the French physiologist, Etienne-Jules Marey held a cat upside down by it’s legs and dropped it. He filmed the action with a camera that took 60 images per second. As the cat fell, an automatic twisting reaction began. The cat maneuvered it’s head, back, legs and tail to lessen the impact.

A word of caution though! Cats aren’t all that tough; they don’t always land the right way up. A badly timed fall can result in bruised ot fractured limbs. The distance is crucial. Too high and the cat may splat just like a human. Too low and the cat may not have time to correct itself.

So, do not try the French physiologist’s experiment at home! Just be reassured to know that your curious cat has a built-in righting reflex that helps him escape those unexpected falls!

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