| Why Do Cats Have Nine Life's?
With nine lives you could afford to be brave, and if you could land on your feet and fall from great heights you would be braver, or in the circus. Cats have a magical ability to survive, which is why we say they have those nine lives.
Your cat is the king of the castle
I was looking at my cat out of my window the other evening; my cat likes to hang out in the back yard, king of the castle and all. This evening I observed him for about 30 minutes; climb a wall here, jump off it there, squabble with another cat; chase a bird to no avail. As it traversed a particularly high wall it lost its footing and took a little slip but did not fall, it merely winced in that nonchalant way cats do and went on with its day.
I sat there thinking that if I had the fabled nine lives that felines are said to possess maybe I would be equally blasé about falling off an object about 20 times bigger than me. Of course if I could fall and land on my feet it would also help. It got me thinking just why we think cats have nine lives, and just why they land on their feet.
It turns out that the number nine has much relevance in ancient religion and cult practises. Ancient Egyptians revered the cat because priests in Heliopolis worshipped gods who were known as Ennead, or the Nine; one of the gods Atum-Ra took the form of the cat and the legend began and has stayed with us ever since.
As culture blossomed during the renaissance cats were no longer worshipped but they were still considered to harbour powers and mystical forces. Of course many today still find the cat to have some supernatural force whether malevolent or benevolent. During this time cats would be dropped from towers with many surviving the fall.
The mystical power of a cat
This made the cat seem as though it had some kind of power but soon science would solve the mystery and show cats to be extraordinary animals. French physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey came along in 1894 and thought it would be a good idea to drop a cat and film it, so she did. Marey held the cat upside down by its legs and let go, while the result was captured on the primitive cameras of the day. As a cat falls it has the ability to twist its body, almost in its own skin and move its head, back and legs meaning it can land safely on its feet.
How does all that explain how a cat can survive huge falls?
Well it doesn’t, but another piece of science can, the science of terminal velocity. Humans accelerate while falling at a speed that is deadly, cats to not because of their mass. In fact humans are the prime weight while everything below the size of a small dog is likely to survive. Distance is also key because cats can also expand their skin to help them glide, and it has been found that falls from 3 stories result in more injuries than those from 7 stories and above. In theory a cat could be dropped from an aeroplane and survive.
If you are about to drop your cat from a tall building, firstly please don’t, and secondly make sure it has the best parasite control with
Advocate for Cats for its journey down.
Written by Darren Robinson
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