Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Cats' remarkable ability to survive falls from great heights is a simple and predictable matter of physics, evolutionary biology, and physiology, veterinarians and biologists say. With scientists unwilling to toss cats off buildings for experimental observation, science has been unable systematically to study the rate at which they live after crashing to the ground.
From the moment they are in the air to the instant after they hit the ground, cats' bodies are built to survive high falls, scientists say. They have a relatively large surface area in proportion to their weight, thus reducing the force at which they hit the pavement. Cats reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the downward tug of gravity is matched by the upward push of wind resistance, at a slow speed compared to large animals like humans and horses.