Landing on Feet

Does anyone know why Cats always land on thier feet?Thier backs weigh more than the leg part so wouldnt they fall Back down due to gravity?

Cecil covered this in an article on cat injuries:

There was also some…ahem…scientific experimentation done:

Anyway, I’ve always wondered what would happen if you strapped buttered toast to the back of a cat (butter side up, of course). :wink:

What kind of slimeball throws a cat out of an airplane to see if it dies or not? If someone will please tell me how to find this guy, I would like to throw HIM out of a plane and see if HE can form a ‘natural parachute’. Or maybe all I need to do is send him a Superman cape and promise him that if he jumps out of a plane wearing it he can fly just like the S-man.

I swear, some people are just wasting air that others could be breathing.


Dead cats probably would fall “back down”. However, because they’re alive and allegedly somewhat intelligent, they have a certain degree of control over how they fall.

I remember once reading a story (billed as a true story, not fiction) about a person who had to eject from a jet fighter at some ridiculous altitude (several miles; over 30,000 feet, if I recall properly) and whose parachute did not work, but nevertheless survived the landing.

It was in the Guiness Book of World Records – a Russian pilot, I believe. He landed on a hillside which acted like a slides, but he still broke quite a few bones.

I’ve seen a film. The cat arched its back as only a cat can - putting its center of gravity in a ventral position. Not really very complex.

Uh, Lasher. I think it’s been proven that all things fall at the same speed. I don’t think gravity is going to pull harder on a cat’s back than on his legs.

What a coincidence, I had a good friend jump out of an airplane and his parachute didn’t open either.

he died

My idea of excitement is driving in metro Atlanta. I’ll leave the parachuting up to the military.


There are several stories from WWII about pilots or members of their crews bailing out at 10,000+ feet and surviving despite an inoperable parachute. Most of these stories involve heavily wooded, snow covered areas and lots of broken bones.

Enright3 writes, “Uh, Lasher. I think it’s been proven that all things fall at the same speed.”.

Wait, hold the bus! In an atmosphere, such as we have here on earth, things can and do fall at different rates.

Also, the specifics of cats aside, it is quite common for things to have a preferred orientation while falling due to aerodynamics.


Oh really? Do cat’s legs fall faster than a cat’s back? I don’t think so. Besides, don’t all things fall 32 feet per second, squared? (If I remember correctly) I don’t remember there being an exclusion for different items falling a different speeds. Where you see the difference is because of wind resistance.

I wrote, “Wait, hold the bus! In an atmosphere, such as we have here on earth, things can and do fall at different rates.”

To which Enright3 replied, “Oh really?”

Yep. Really!

Enright3: “Besides, don’t all things fall 32 feet per second, squared?”

Yep, sort of - that’s a rate of acceleration, which ignoring aerodynamics, holds true for objects here on earth. But you can’t generally ignore aerodynamics, so that number can and does change for different objects. But that’s all sort of irrelavent here:

The original question was whether some object, such as a dead cat, might have a preferred orientation while falling. I don’t know about dead cats in particular, but in general this is quite possible and even common. You can try it yourself: make a cone out of paper and some tape, and drop it from over your head. It’ll fall pointy-end down. Both the weight distribution and the shape of the object do matter. There is some fancy physics you can do to tell you what this preferred orientation might be for any given object.

Basically, the original poster was right, although for a flawed reason, but your statement that all objects fall at the same speed is definately not true here on earth. On the moon, it’s pretty darned close to true.


What would happen if you dropped a cat(live, in some sort of feline environment suit)on the moon?

In general it is safe to assume that the more dense an object is the faster it will fall. Just remember that stuff like parachutes have a volume that includes all the air that they trap.

my last post should have said “In general in an atmosphere…”

The cat would land on its feet in slow motion, accompanied by Strauss’ “Blue Danube Waltz” as background music.

Viva Kubrick!!! :wink:

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!