Cats Have A Head For Heights

Cats have a fantastic head for heights unlike most people. The human is a ground dwelling animal 😉 Cats are betwixt the ground and the trees. Some wild cats are tree dwelling and some ground dwelling but all the wild cat species and, of course, our humble domesticated cats like a bit of vertical movement – upwards. It comes naturally and the cat has no fear of falling or of heights. Are those cats that are stuck up a tree, fearful of heights? I don’t believe so.

cats have a head for heights
Cats have a head for heights. Photos by Rudolph Furtado.
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Rudolph says this about his photo:

“After years suddenly thought of photographing cat Matahari from the ground as she sat on her normal favourite place, 5th floor gallery ledge. I thought these photos could prove the fact that cats love sitting in high places which to us humans would seem suicidal. She sits on this ledge for at least an hour a day as also her kitten Matata who mimics her, now a tomcat .A slight slip from this ledge means a fall 5 floors below to the ground. These photos clearly indicates the height and the narrowness of the gallery ledge.”

Well, you said it all. Cats have no fear when perched precariously on a narrow ledge five floors up. Although I don’t think it makes any difference, there is a little canopy about five feet below Matahari. Has she ever jumped onto that?

Sometimes, the cat’s confidence, goes wrong. Some cats do fall. Most of the falling cats escape with minor injuries because of their self-righting mechanism and their ability to fan out their body like a flying squirrel when falling, which slows the speed of descent. They land on their feet. Perhaps they damage their chin and a leg or get a bruised chest. That’s about the sum total of their injuries, a lot of the time.

Cats falling from great heights suffer less injury than cats from lower heights because their body-righting and fanned out profile has slowed the fall significantly when falling farther.

Update from Rudolph..

Today I was lucky to photograph the elusive tomcat “Matata” on the window-ledge an exact “Copycat posture” of his dam “Matahari” taken a few days ago. Notice the similarities and they take turns in sitting on this window ledge, absolutely dangerous cat stunts. Tomcat matata is a very nervous cat, afraid of strangers and noises and hence difficult to photograph compared to Matahari. Matata has a strange mannerism of keeping his right leg out of the window, the same clearly visible in the second photo.

This is his normal posture whenever he sits on the window-sill ledge. In comparison his dam Matahari literally goes to sleep on the ledge which scares us, in case she falls off in her sleep. The term copycats originated from cats and all cat owners know the reasons for the same.

Cat on a ledge in India
Matata on the same windowsill ledge.

7 thoughts on “Cats Have A Head For Heights”

  1. Thursday(5-6-2014) :- Here is the latest candid photo of cat Matahari on the balcony ledge in the evening. She poses akin to a model, least afraid of anyone, including strangers.She sits here twice a day, once in the morning and the second time is in the evening at dusk.

  2. Thanks Michael for adding the recent photographs of Tomcat Matata to the main topic concerning the average cats fascination for heights.Viewers can get an idea of the bizarre calmness in which these tow cats from the same family laze around on the gallery window-sill.I am sure not all house-hold cats have this habit of sitting on ledges in their owners house, least of all the “traditional Persian Cat”, considered a docile lap cat.As Kevin.Roche has mentioned that there are cases where cats have fallen down from great heights and survived the fall and the same is also true for humans.Luck plays a great role in surviving accidents, even in cats.I dread the day one of my cats accidentally falls from this ledge as i just can’t change their behaviour and hope everyday is a safe day.These two cats are literally playing “Russian Roulette” daily just by sitting on this gallery ledge.Statistics have proved that most cats get injured or succumb to falls from high places and the posturing of cats Matahari & Matata proves this fact of cat life.

    • They are playing Russian roulette but they don’t realise it. However, very, very few cats fall. They are just too good at staying up in high places. It’s in the genes.

  3. At the age of a year whenever she came into “Heat” Matahari would meoow loudly and once she even jumped out of the gallery ledge onto the para-pit below.Luckily i spotted her and we managed to get hold of her physically and pull her back into the house.This was my main reason for mating her and after becoming a mother cat she has never ever ventured out of the gallery onto the para-pit.She and her kitten, now 4 year old tomcat matata take turns sitting on this gallery ledge, enjoying the view of the World below.I find this behaviour strange for the breed as Persian cats are considered more as house lap cats.My previous cat “Trixie”(1995-2007) , a albino/Siamese mix which lived with us for 12 years never ever sat on this ledge the way these two traditional Persian cats do.Sometimes, as in humans, seems you can never ever stereotype a cat breed for behaviour characteristics.My two traditional Persian cats could give a wild cat competition in tree climbing or sitting on high places.

    • great story rudolph,it made me is really amazing how cats have the ability to jump or fall from very high places and land with little or no injury that would likely kill most humans.a couple of years ago there was a news story here in new york about a cat that fell 18 stories (about 180 feet) off a high-rize apartment balcony and lived.the cat did fracture his leg and had a scrape mark on his chin,but healed up and went on to live a healthy life.i was really amazed to hear about that.and he did not land on a giant soft cussion,he landed on a concrete sidewalk….maybe cats do have 9 lives.


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