Do cats always land unharmed on their feet, no matter how far they fall?

After reading this very interesting article, it came to mind, did hair length have anything to do with the cat’s survival? Surely a short haired cat will fall faster (and have less padding) than a fluffy, long haired one.


When I was about five years old my older sister told me that cats always landed on their feet. She convinced me I could jump off the branch on the maple tree about ten feet off the ground and would just land on my feet without getting hurt. They hauled me into the house unconscious when I landed on my head.

When you were five you were a cat?

It also said that toast always lands butter side down.
So if you were to strap a piece of buttered toast to the back of a cat and drop the cat I would expect the cat/toast combo to hover over the floor rolling toast up/feet down to toast down/feet up over and over again.
If we could figure out how to harness this energy we could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

Don’t be silly. He was still a kitten.

aawww- I’m a mouse guys. I was trying to be something I’m not just so I could fit in.

Between this and your attitude toward mercury and lead in the other thread, I guess we have a full explanation for your posting history.

High intelligence is just a step from insanity. When you understand what people percieve as normal is nothing more than a perception of our conditioning than You will see as I do.

Not if the bag’s tied up tight enough.

I’m sick and tired of this whole hovercat thing, since, to avoid violating one of the premises, it goes and violates both of them. A cat always lands on its feet, but a hovercat does not land on its feet, since it doesn’t land. Reductio ad absurdem, therefore the cat does not hover. Likewise, the toast always lands butter side down, contrary to the toast never landing, too.

Clearly, what happens is that the cat does in fact land on its feet, and then proceeds to roll over and smear butter on the carpet, thereby fulfilling both conditions.

But can one truly say that the toast that landed on the floor was the same one that was strapped to the back of the cat?

That said I remember that if dropped from a height of over 2 metres or so that toast lands butter side up. At least according to an experiment on “How!”, a children’s television program.

I read somewhere about experiments to look at the toast thing. The hypothesis was that the side down was largely determined by the natural rotation of a slice of bread as slid off a counter at standard kitchen height. The idea being that a slight rotation imposed would naturally induce at a speed such that it only had rotational speed to flip half over. Raise the counter, and the toast landed butter side up.

Of course, in practice, the method of dropping toast is not limited to sliding it off the table.

You can keep levitated in the air by attaching a piece of buttered toast to it’s back.

Since cat questions are popping up with frequency today, I’ll provide a link to similar question.

No, if you butter both sides of the toast, you can ensure it lands butter side down, rather than just making it highly likely. You can skip buttering and ensure it lands dry side down, but that won’t exactly be butter side up.

Or you can skip the toast and butter the floor directly.

If you butter a cat, it will eat the toast.

Anyhow, I’ve added a link to the OP. General comment: when starting a thread about one of Cecil’s columns, it’s helpful to other readers to provide a link. Saves searching time and keeps us on the same page.

The cat phrase is a myth…If you drop a cat from the empire state building, and it hits the street its going to go splat and probably create a small crevasse. (that is of course if it does not crash into the building first.)
I am pretty sure that “Toast always lands butter side down” has nothing to do with science…Its a phrase like “Bad things always happen in three’s.” Its a pessimistic world view that life just sucks…What happens when toast lands butter side down? All the dirt and filth sticks to the butter, and you cant really wipe it off, therefore becoming inedible. If it lands dry side down, then you can brush it off. (Well, in theory, but germs are germs, so no matter how toast falls on the floor its probably not the best idea to pick it back up and eat it. But like Mother used to say “A little Dirt don’t hurt!”)

And on a related note, chickens don’t really cross roads all that often.

Yes, but will it splat on the ground or crash into the building feet first?


Not so. Not all cats will survive a fall like that, but they won’t go splat even if they fall a mile, at least on this planet. The good old square/cube law is on their side.