Cat Trivia: Cat Terminal Velocity is 53 mph

God forbid that a cat falls from a high place but they do sometimes. Unsupervised cats on balconies can fall. People don’t believe they ever will.

The further they fall, in some respects, the safer the cat. The cat reaches a terminal velocity that is relatively slow: 53 mph. Cats can and do survive these falls at this speed, landing, as they do, on their feet. They might suffer the odd break or fracture. Chins tend to get fractured.

By contrast a human falling with normal posture reaches a terminal velocity of about 120 mph, well over twice the speed. Humans are almost invariably killed in falls of 35 feet or more. I am guessing the height.


There is a restaurant in London that is known for suicides: Coq D’Argent in the city. It is 80 feet up. People just drink some wine and walk over the edge in front of everyone. A cat would almost certainly survive these falls. Probably just sprint away after touching down.

The much reduced velocity is due to the obvious. The cat splays out his legs and fly almost like a flying squirrel. The splayed fury legs and body form a crude parachute with air friction. There is some loose skin between leg and body which creates an air brake. The self-righting mechanism means a cat always falls down perfectly upright and in a controlled way.

The video shows a cat falling 25 metres or about 75 feet. He touches a branch on the way down that throws him off balance a bit but he was OK.

See cat falling.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Yes cats are far better than humans.
    What puzzles me is why the restaurant owners don’t put a safety barrier round so people can’t jump off?
    I can only think the roaring trade in champagne for the would be suicides pays too well for them to stop people doing it!
    Our late mother would say ‘Money is the root of all evil’ and our late father would reply ‘Give me more of the root’

    • Michael says:

      What puzzles me is why the restaurant owners don’t put a safety barrier round so people can’t jump off?

      Good point. I think they probably like the publicity. Also there may be a nice view. That is the way the world works.

  2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Cats are miraculous creatures, to see that one in the video fall so far and then run off…phew…..they must be born with a sort of built in safety net because of their love of heights!
    How strange it must be at the Coq D’Argent, just imagine sitting enjoying a meal and some one walks over the edge and falls to the ground, do the diners just carry on eating? Have you been there Michael?

    • Michael says:

      Regarding the restaurant, when it happens the management politely ask people to leave. At least that is the decent thing to do but I could imagine a scenario where everyone just carries on as nothing happened. Life is a bit like that. I have not been there but it is quite well known which is why people use it. They drink champagne before doing it sometimes. One guy jumped of with a glass of champagne in his hand! The restaurant is near the city where the banks are. There is a lot of pressure and misbehavior in the banking world.

      The cat in the video is amazing but typical really. Cats are great survivors. Of course cats are great climbers and several wild cat species live in trees. It appears that the domestic cat has an inbuilt survival strategy when falling from high places, inherited from his wild cat ancestor. They are better than humans aren’t they? 🙂

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