Cat Righting Reflex

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Cats have a unique ability to land on their feet after falling from great heights. This is known as the “cat righting reflex.” The righting reflex is observable in kittens from as early as three weeks old and is fully developed by seven weeks.

The righting reflex works because, first of all, cats have very sensitive sense organs. That is, an apparatus in their inner ear acts as their balance and compass, such that they always know right side up. Cats also have a flexible backbone and no collarbone, so that it can twist its head around to see where it’s going to land. Furthermore, cats have a low body volume-to-weight ratio, which means it can spread itself out and make its body into a sort of parachute, slowing falling velocity.

The cat righting reflex has been studied by many. If you’re interested in cats (and physics), check out the link below or do some research yourself. There’s a lot to learn!

Works cited:

DeMain, Bill. “Feline Physics: Why Cats Can Survive Falls From Great Heights.” Mental_floss. February 6 2012. Web. 28 March 2014. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/29921/feline-physics-why-cats-can-survive-falls-great-heights>

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