We now know, thanks largely to the Internet, that when the domestic cat falls she always lands on her feet. We also know that cats have a self righting mechanism which operates very quickly. And thirdly, we also know that when a cat falls a considerable distance he extends his limbs outward, assuming the position of a flying squirrel allowing him to glide and put a brake on the speed of descent. This position also prevents cats from tumbling head over heels through the air while falling thereby preventing them from hitting the ground head first.
The shocking (for me) short video below (it’s actually an animated gif) shows a tabby cat falling from a huge height (looks like it’s around 20 stories) and running away when he hits the concrete. I think he runs away because there is a rival cat nearby – just a guess.
A record fall involved a cat from New York named Sabrina. She fell from the 32nd floor of an apartment building. She landed on a concrete sidewalk – the hardest possible landing you could envisage. Sabrina walked away after she hit the ground. She suffered a chipped tooth and a minor chest injury. There are very few animals who could have done that.
A study by the Animal Medicine Centre in New York carried out many years ago looked at 132 cats. All the cats had fallen from tall buildings from the height of the second floor to the 32nd floor (the Sabina fall).
Astonishingly, the study found that 90% of the cats that fell from these considerable heights survived. Almost 2/3 of them required no medical treatment whatsoever.
We know that people falling more than six stories are almost invariably killed. The figure of 90% survival rate for cats surprised me considering the heights involved.
There are other articles on the subject on this site which you can look at by clicking on this link.