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Spin reflex: Do cats always fall on their feet?


The physique of cats allows them to turn even in free fall. The so-called rotating reflex ensures that the fur noses land on the paws almost every time they fall. But does the reflex protect the cat from injuries? Cats can spin in free fall so they almost always land on their paws - Shutterstock / Vinogradov Illya

The turning reflex is innate in cats and develops when kittens gradually gain body control and also learn to walk. However, this does not mean that the skillful velvet paws cannot hurt when falling.

What happens when cats fall?

If cats fall from a height of two to three meters, they can turn in the air on their own axis, so that their paws point down and they can land on all four feet. In order to absorb the shock during landing, it is also part of the turning reflex that the cat forms its back to the hump as it falls.

First the cat turns its head and the front paws towards the ground, then it pulls with the rear paws and uses its tail as a steering to bring itself into the right position. However, if the time in free fall is too short, the rotating reflex will not take effect in time. This can happen if cats fall from a height of less than two meters.

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Kitten's turning reflex

From about the 39th day of life, kittens slowly begin to develop the turning reflex. In this phase - between the fifth and sixth week of their lives - the kittens also start to walk properly and go on a discovery tour. They can quickly fall off the closet or scratching post while playing and romping. However, if you already master the turning reflex, the risk of injury is lower.

Caution, risk of injury!

However, there is a risk that the cat will get injured - especially if cats fall from very high or too low heights. If the animals were unable to complete the turning reflex, they may end up unhappy. If the landing is too high, the shock is so great that the cat can no longer cushion everything and injure itself. It can also be dangerous if the ground is very hard or uneven, or if there are fragments or objects scattered around the landing site.


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