UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Why can cats land on their feet when they jump off a tree?
Question Date: 2012-03-21
Answer 1:

Cats are incredibility agile animals and while they dont always land on their feet they usually do. One of the main reasons for their agility is the way their skeletal system is structured. Oddly, cats have no collarbone. This lack of a collarbone allows cats to have more mobility on their front legs. Cats also have a very flexible back so they are able to bend, twist, and right themselves in ways that most animals cant.

Then comes the actual fall - cats have a great sense of direction and they can tell instantly which way is up so that they can position their body correctly very quickly. Their vestibular apparatus is responsible for this incredible balance and coordination. When a cat is falling (or just moving) the vestibular apparatus becomes active and gets them balanced. But even though cats have this amazing ability to generally land on their feet from a fall, they arent invincible and can easily get hurt, particularly when falling from heights, so its important to never test your cats ability to fall correctly and just trust that he or she can.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use