I always like to provide some good cat news at the end of the week, and at least four readers sent me this heartwarming story of Ceiling Cat’s intercessory miracle. It’s the story of Sugar, a white cat in Boston who survived a 19-story fall with only minor injuries. You can read about it here, and there’s a video report (click on the video itself or the arrow at bottom left; there’s an ad, too):
If you want to know more about cat falls, here’s some stuff from Wikipedia:
In addition to the righting reflex cats have a number of other features that will reduce damage from a fall. Their small size, light bone structure, and thick fur decrease their terminal velocity. Furthermore, once righted they may also spread out their body to increase drag and slow the fall to some extent. A falling cat’s terminal velocity is 100 km/h (60mph) whereas that of a falling man in a “free fall position” is 210 km/h (130mph). At terminal velocity they also relax as they fall which protects them to some extent on impact. However, it has been argued that, after having reached terminal velocity, cats would orient their limbs horizontally such that their body hits the ground first.
Using their righting reflex theory, cats can often land uninjured. This is, however, not always the case, and cats can still break bones or die from falls. In a 1987 study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, of 132 cats that were brought into the New York Animal Medical Center after having fallen from buildings, it was found that the injuries per cat increased depending on the height fallen up to seven stories but decreased above seven stories. The study authors speculated that after falling five stories the cats reached terminal velocity and thereafter relaxed and spread their bodies to increase drag. However, an alternative interpretation which came out of internet chat of the study would be that upon an excess of seven stories the cats experience a higher fatality rate which precludes the owner from bringing them in for medical attention. Although scientists in Massachusetts have recently discovered that the cat’s ability to spread its legs out to decrease drag when reaching terminal velocity would explain the decreased injuries sustained above seven stories because they wouldn’t reach terminal velocity before then. Professor David Stevenson said “we simulated the cat’s weight and size and found the terminal velocity to be 60mph which would more than likely result in severe injury or death to the cat when falling from this speed, but once we took into account the cat’s ability to right its self and spread its body out this reduced the terminal velocity to only 53mph. This 7mph difference is massive and would almost certainly ensure the cat’s survival. There however is always the possibility that the cat may not manage to right itself so this is far from a conclusive experiment and we do not condone the throwing of cats from anything”.