Asked by: Mary Lowell, Southwold
When a cat falls, it reflexively twists its body in mid-air so that its feet face downwards. There are documented cases of cats falling from the 32nd storey of New York skyscrapers and surviving. But landing unscathed is far from guaranteed.
One 1987 study in the Journal Of The American Veterinary Medical Association looked at 132 cats that had fallen an average of 5.5 storeys and survived. It found that a third of them would have died without emergency veterinary treatment. Interestingly, injuries were worse in falls less than seven storeys than in higher tumbles. The researchers think that this is because the cats reach their terminal velocity after falling about seven storeys (21m), which means they stop accelerating. They then relax, allowing better distribution of impact.
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