There is a belief prevalent that cats can land on their paws harmlessly irrespective of the height. Assuming that the land below is plain soil, what can maximum if cat is drooped, it lands safely?

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    The answer would also be dependant on the size and weight of the animal.
    – Spidercat
    Aug 25, 2014 at 15:44
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    It would also be dependent on the age of the cat, which for me brings it back from Physics to Pets, but that is just me. Aug 25, 2014 at 15:52
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    @MattS. - More biology actually, physics is better prepared to talk about falling objects that don't react to the fall.
    – Joanne C
    Aug 25, 2014 at 17:01
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    Related: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/4398/…
    – Zaralynda
    Aug 25, 2014 at 18:26
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    @Zaralynda your related looks like it makes this question a duplicate. Aug 26, 2014 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


There's a great term called "feline high-rise syndrome".

Roughly speaking, 90% of cats survive falls from 2-32 stories (approx 5-160 meters).

A Straight Dope article from 1996 conjectured that higher falls give the cat time to rotate (feet-down) and then relax, which causes their excess of skin to act somewhat like a parachute. Specifically, the article says that falls over seven stories are more survivable.

The 2004 Vnuk article specifically disputes this, stating:

Falls from the seventh or higher stories, are associated with more severe injuries and with a higher incidence of thoracic trauma.

The article also indicates a 96.5% survival rate, though half of those sustained limb fractures.

Incidentally, a physics.stackoverflow article says a "righted and relaxed" cat has a terminal velocity around 100kph, while reddit estimates a human's TV is about 160kph at the slowest (flat, stretched out).

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    Point of clarification: the 90% figure in the second sentence is not of cats falling from 2-32 stories, but rather the percent of survivors who are taken in for treatment. In other words, if the cat isn't killed outright, and taken in to a veterinarian for treatment, there's a 90% chance they'll survive. As is, I feel this answer understates the danger and risk to a cat from falling from great heights.
    – Beofett
    Aug 25, 2014 at 16:59
  • Yes, that stat is a good example of "selection bias"...the set of cats falling from high rises that reach the vet is not a random sample.
    – Oldcat
    Aug 26, 2014 at 16:49
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    very true, Oldcat and Beofett. It's basically "ignoring cats that ran away, died, or were abandoned, most survive". Aug 26, 2014 at 17:17

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