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What is the maximum height a cat can fall from and survive? © iStock

What is the maximum height a cat can fall from and survive?

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There are documented cases of cats falling from the 32nd storey of New York skyscrapers and surviving.

Asked by: Mary Lowell, Southwold

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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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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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