The Physics Behind Why Cats Always Land On Their Feet (Video)

Almost everyone knows that cats have an extraordinary ability to land on their feet, even if they start out upside down. But how are they actually able to do this?

Destin, founder of the popular youtube channel SmarterEveryDay, recently broke down the science behind how cats are seemingly able to always land on their feet.

Photo Credit: Warren Photographic

He posed the following question: How does a cat go from feet up to feet down in a falling reference frame without violating the conservation of angular momentum?

To put it in more basic terms, how do cats create the torque necessary to spin their bodies in mid-air, even when they’re not spinning initially?

And furthermore, how are they able to then stop that rotational momentum right before they land?

Check out the video below to see how Destin found the answers to these questions:

The video was shot with the Phantom Miro M320S high speed camera. Also, no cats were harmed in the making of this video.

SmarterEveryDay is a great place to visually absorb information and continue your learning- you can check out more SmarterEveryDay videos here! 

Also, I did a bit of snooping and found the original footage of those cats in space. It’s from a 1947 informational film detailing “Bioastronautics Research” carried out by the Department of Defense.

They also tested the effects of weightlessness on pigeons… Enjoy!

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