Righting Reflex

This question has been asked for centuries, ever since people noticed this uncanny ability of cats to land on their feet even when falling from heights. The Discovery Channel once ran a special program on what is known as the “righting reflex” of cats.

Once you are up more than two or three floors, the cat is able to rotate herself in midair so that she nearly always lands on her feet. Injuries may be sustained, depending on the height from which she falls.

Cats have what is termed “nonfatal terminal velocity”. This sounds like a simple contradiction, but many smaller animals have this fortuitous advantage. Once she orients herself, a cat can spread out to create an effective parachute. Some cats have fallen 20 or more stories without any injuries. As long as she doesn’t land on something that could injure her, she may walk away from the fall.