Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Terminal Velocity of Cats

  1. Sep 5, 2008 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2008 #2
    so if I fall out of a tall building should I try to belly flop?
  4. Sep 6, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I think it means that you should relax.

    Cool runnings.
  5. Sep 9, 2008 #4
    my brother's cat jumped off a 10 story balcony once. he chalked it up for dead/missing till a few days later someone told him there was a orange cat in the bushes down there and it turns out the cat wasn't in too bad shape.

    FYI if your on a plane and your cat is shredding the furniture, you can throw it out the back and pick it up after you land.
  6. Sep 9, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    But not during take off and landing.
    There was a study of cats falling out of high rise buildings, for falls from low floors they are unharmed and from high floors where they reach terminal velocity.
    But there is a death zone for middle floors where they don't have time to turn feet down and spread out.
  7. Sep 10, 2008 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Doesn't make sense to me. Cat turns feet down in tenths of a second, during first meter or so of fall, that's what they routinely do for millions of years (and that's what they are experts at). I am not neglecting fact that there is a death zone, I just doubt the reason as listed.
  8. Sep 10, 2008 #7
    They have to turn feet down and also relax. From low heights they don't have to be relaxed, from the death zone heights they don't have time to get over the moment of terror and relax and from the high heights they are able to relax and survive.
  9. Sep 10, 2008 #8
    Cats can survive long falls, but I don't think it has anything to do with terminal velocity or their reflexes or anything like that.

    I believe the scientific explanation is that the cat does actually die when they land, but since they have nine lives, they go on living with eight more lives left.
  10. Sep 10, 2008 #9

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Cats use noise to completely stop their fall. The yooowwwl-SPLAT sound at the end of the fall is clear proof of this hypothesis.

    Wait until MoonBear sees this thread. Uh oh.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook