Can Cats Fall From Any Height and Survive?

As a cat owner, you must be familiar with the incredible agility that this feline breed exhibits, especially when it comes to surviving massive falls. There have been reports of cats walking away with just minor injuries after accidentally falling off buildings, some as high as 32 stories. That's like superhero amazing!

Truth be told, our cute felines appear to be somewhat natural daredevils. Which explains why most cat owners will perpetually wonder if their cats fall from any height will they still still survive. Well, let's see. 

1. The Anatomy of a Cat

Compared to other mammals such as horses, cats, monkeys, and other arboreal animals have a relatively large surface area to weight ratio. In other words, they tend to accelerate to a lower terminal velocity; exceedingly less than what you would achieve if you were to jump out of a high-rise building.

An array of calculations and statistical evidence shows that the average cat ( with their limbs extended out to mimic a parachute ) will just accelerate to a terminal velocity of 60 mph. Now, compared to the 120 mph that is synonymous with a man falling off a cliff, you can get a glimpse of why a cat has a higher chance of surviving a free fall than you.

The lower terminal velocity means less impact force when your cat ultimately hits the pavement/ground, and as a result, fewer bones will be broken.

Secondly, the legs of a cat are evolutionarily adapted to absorb a good chunk of the impact force upon crashing.

Their comparatively long and compliant legs mimic a car's spring shock absorber by lengthening the time of the impact, and consequently, less impulse force.

Besides, cats have pretty decent, flexible, and pliable muscles that are specifically designed for jumping and landing. Remember that their not-so-distant cousins in the wild rely on their superior landing prowess when stalking, attacking, and ripping prey apart from the top of trees.​​​​

It is also worth mentioning that the strong muscles of a cat's legs channel their energy and strength to deceleration, instead of it being harmfully used to break bones on impact.

The deceleration also plays a big role towards minimizing the impulse impact sustained upon crashing.

All the above factors combined give the feline a better shot at surviving an otherwise fatal fall. 

2. The Aerial Righting Reflex

Cats are among the few mammals that are naturally gifted with a keen sense of telling which side is up.

It's scientifically known as the aerial righting reflex. Like monkeys and orangutans, they are uniquely capable of righting and aligning themselves during mid-fall to make sure that they land feet-first, regardless of the orientation or direction of the fall. 

This will happen in a split second, and if the fall is far enough, it can significantly reduce the chances of your cat fracturing her spine, ribs or bursting her lungs after a massive fall.

Thanks to such an acute sense of flexibility and balance, a cat will - most often than not - get away with just minor injuries after a deathly fall

3. Fondness For High Places

You see, cats have this weird natural fondness of heights that most people can't seem to understand. They prefer to perch on rooftops, hang on window sills, and bask while atop chimneys ( even on skyscrapers ).

Funny enough, some will even doze off while perched several dozen feet above the ground.

In the wild, a cat can save itself from a fatal fall by latching on a tree's bark using its sharp claws. Of course, this wouldn't be possible on a smoothened concrete or glass surface.

Luckily, they are not likely to die from the impact of the fall, as explained above. 

It is advisable to schedule an urgent trip to a vet should your cat survive a massive fall.

Despite not showing signs of pain, It is possible that she may have sustained a few severe internal injuries that may require immediate medical attention or even surgery.

Finally, bear in mind that most household cats are far from being as supremely fit as their counterparts in the wild.

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