Parachute cats



Whether it's a myth, a miracle, or a physical wonder, the idea of a cat always landing on its feet is firmly rooted in feline lore. Tabby cats pushing past window sills in search of passing birds, or miscalculating fences as they run away from barking dogs, seem to effortlessly regain perfect balance, an action that has long confused observers - until 'Frame-by-frame photos and slow motion video are revealed. the details of this strange feline habit.

This does not mean that cats land without difficulty. Cats that fall sometimes suffer from injuries, and not all cats survive falls, especially older, less agile cats. Thanks to science and technology, here is what we now know about the aerodynamic abilities of cats.

Fact or fiction?

Most of the time, a cat lands on its feet when it falls. His body reflexively corrects its course so that by the time it hits the ground, its feet are in a position to strike first. A cat's fall height determines how well or how poorly their legs can absorb the shock of the landing.

Veterinarians treating broken legs and other injuries in cats who survive falls from high-rise apartments have noticed that cats that fall from greater heights, such as more than five stories high, often suffer less severe injuries than those falling. only a few floors because a longer fall gave the cats' bodies more time to straighten up.

Feline Body Mechanics - Seen in slow motion, a falling cat begins to shift its balance early in its flight. His body determines which side should be up, and he begins to turn his head, directed by his eyes and ears, until he is facing that direction. Then his spine follows, as he arches his back; then its front legs, followed by its rear legs, position themselves under it, with its front legs placed close to its face to spare it from impact to the ground. As it lands, the joints of the cat's paws take the impact of its weight. A falling cat looks less like an airplane than a parachute. As his body orients towards the fall movement, it relaxes and spreads out for the coming landing.

Cats are also endowed with other means of landing on their feet. They are born with flexible backbones that allow this correction of heading when falling. Cats also have 30 vertebrae, which contributes to their flexibility (humans only have 24). And although their tails often act as rudders in daily activities, the tails are insignificant in free fall - so even a cat born without a tail, like the Manx, or the hapless feline that lost its own as a result of a injury can still cause a fall.

The cat's inner ear houses its vestibular system, which tells the cat's body where it is in relation to the ground, whether it is upside down, moving, or walking.


According to the studies carried out, the thesis confirms that the cats that most often defeat are rather young : 38.8% are less than one year old and the median is 14 months. The average is rather around 2 to 3 years and they are predominantly male.

It is obvious that accidents occur during the most summer period, that is to say in spring and summer and to the tune of approximately 50%.



  1. Spaying your cat will limit his desire to escape to meet his needs.
  2. Simple measures should be taken to prevent your cat from falling:
    • Close the windows when you leave and check where it is before you leave.
    • At first, do not leave your cat unattended on the balcony and avoid putting furniture near the railing that could encourage him to climb on it.
    • The openwork balconies (with bars) ask the cat to jump in one go and more awkwardly than on those with glass protection.
    • Do not put a canisse or bamboo to block the vision of the cat outside, if he does not see what is behind, you make him take an even greater risk because his curiosity will lead him to jump on the guardrail and not knowing what is behind it, he risks being surprised on arrival. Wire mesh is not recommended either, it is the best way for him to get to the top without too much effort. Try to favor smooth walls.
    • Avoid obstructing your cat's vision: he needs to be able to see what's going on. There are also transparent balcony protectors. An adult cat very quickly becomes aware of the danger when it is on great heights. When on your railing He can get dizzy and tries to avoid a fall at all costs. The perception of height as well as the fear of heights are innate in the cat but it can make evaluation errors and the conditions of the surface on which it evolves can be to its disadvantage. 
    • The best protection remains the safety net around your balcony if you can or want to. You will also be dependent on the authorization of the co-owners on the implementation of this solution which may be considered degrading for the neighborhood and for the enhancement of the building in which you live.
    • Always pay attention to what is happening on the terrace and its reactions to external events.
    • If you do not want to completely partition your balcony, we offer the deterrent solution Catsafe to prevent him from taking action and jumping on the railing.


Ref: Veterinary thesis, ENVA, by N.DETABLE, 2019