Of the many peculiarities that characterize cats, falling on their feet after jumping into the void is one of the unknowns that caused the greatest fury in the scientific community since the last seventeenth century. After many inconclusive theories that were dismantled one after another, the experts agreed that this ability is thanks to the anatomy and evolution of this animal itself.
From the flexibility of its spine, to the agility of its legs that serve as a brake and spring, complemented by its tail that, when exposed to a fall, extends vertically, stopping the impact. Each and every one of these parts form a perfect gear for the feline to turn its body just before reaching the ground. But where does this instinct come from?
Experts call it the "cat's righting reflex". It is a natural reflex that all felines have, which happens due to a structure found inside their inner ear, which allows them to detect the position of their head when they are in the cat. air, and then communicate it to the brain, so that the cat can make a movement in the air that allows it to rotate in order to regain the normal orientation of its body.
This extraordinary attribute goes well with an animal that is curious, restless, and reckless by nature. However, this same gift has been a source of risks for cats. If it is not because of the flying cat syndrome, it is because of a more dangerous disease: the ignorance of the human being.
Flying cat syndrome
The networks are full of videos in which cats are observed tempting gravity and climbing unimaginable heights, with an enviable elegance and safety.
Without going very far, last weekend, a cat went viral on the web, for hanging itself in the stands of an American football stadium, in the United States. However, the mischief went very wrong, and he fell to a height of no less than 20 meters. His luck was in the fans, who with the help of a flag managed to cushion the impact and save the life of the feline.
This type of acts, specialists call it the syndrome of the flying cat or parachute cat. They are felines that rush into the void from a high height (a balcony, terrace or window) as a result of a mistake or a slip derived from inexperience when calculating distances
Veterinarians warn that these types of accidents are more common in young, unspayed cats. The pheromones that they perceive and that stimulate their sexual behavior, can drive them to escape from home, without measuring the consequences of a fall.
Young cat's naivety also contributes to accidents associated with flying cat syndrome. In general, these pets have not developed the ability to register the true height at which they are, unaware of the danger.
Beyond sexual stimuli, there is also a factor worth considering: the curiosity of cats. The appearance of a bird or an insect can be enough distraction for the kitten to recklessly jump into the void, so it is recommended that the owners of kittens take preventive measures and guarantee the safety of their animals.
How to avoid risks?
The first thing to bear in mind is that cats are, like any other animal, beings capable of feeling pain, of suffering serious injuries to the point of causing death. This point is highlighted, to leave behind the insistent myth that all cats have seven lives and therefore come out of a fall unscathed because they always fall on their feet. The consequences of a fall can range from small superficial wounds in the cat to head trauma, severe spinal injuries or ruptured internal organs, warn veterinarians.
It may be the case that a cat that falls from a significant height does not necessarily have the agility or instinct to fall on its feet, because there may be certain circumstances, such as ear diseases that alter its balance, or even less skillful cats or In the mature stage, they are not able to perform the reflex movement and suffer serious injuries from the fall.
For this reason, it is important to explain to the entire family nucleus that lives with the feline, especially children and young people, that cats should not be exposed to unnecessary risks to satisfy a curiosity or an old myth about the immortality of this animal.
Another fundamental point is sterilization, to avoid the fact that the feline is tempted to escape by the pheromones of its neighbors and falls to a considerable height after a fight with its rivals. Or that the jealous cat looks for a boyfriend to fulfill the mating cycle and is at risk.
Place nets on windows and terraces, so that the home security for the feline is increased, is part of the advice. To this can be added the "kitting" of the house, that is to say, placing special furniture for our felines such as climbing poles, hammocks to sleep, well distributed shelves, they can satisfy the taste of the felines' heights, without having to go out of your space of comfort and safety.