December 19, 2008

What happens if you throw a cat?

So today, I picked up a cat and cradled it, because you know, cats are pretty cute. And cuteness is something I've found that I really miss.

So I cradle it, and after a while it becomes bored and tries to get down. Now usually I let go, but today I wanted to see what would happen if I just refused to let go of it.

I hold onto it tightly and adjust to counter the cat's movements. It gets really angry, and bares its teeth, claws around etc, so I decided to finally let it go before it actually scratched me or something, since then I would have to eat it (my religion says so).

Since it seemed to really want to get down, I just dropped it from my arms, at about four feet high. I was pretty surprised to see how quickly it was able to change directions and land on his feet, especially considering that it had started the journey with its feet in the air, clawing around like one of those little babies I used to steal candy from.

Now this got me to thinking.

First though, I remember a story a physics professor once told me.

He mentioned that as scientists, it was our duty to test things, and back up theories with evidence. Now, everyone has heard how cats always land feet first, no matter what. So one day when he was in college, he and his friends decided to try it. They took a cat up a tall building and dropped it back first onto the ground. He never mentioned what happened to the cat.

Now this story, and my personal anecdote started me thinking about how cats would react in different situations. There has to be some way that gravity is affecting a cats physiology, ensuring that it always lands feet down. Now, what happens if someone took a cat up in space, to zero gravity, or more specifically, microgravity?

I bet the cat would just spin around rapidly, like a top or a spinning battle, permanently trying to get its feet towards the ground. Another favorite idea of mine is that the cat would just explode without gravity, since its physiology is so tuned towards the direction of the gravitational force, that without it its body would become out of control and combust. That would be cool to see.

One the same thought, what happens if you throw a cat in space? Like pick it up and just throw it as hard as you can somewhere in microgravity. Would it still align itself towards the surface?

Another thought. What if you threw a cat really hard towards the ceiling on Earth? Would it hit its head? What if you put a cat in one of those water tubes at the theme park.

What if you took at cat and stuck it on the ceiling? What would it do? Would it try to twist its neck around when it realized it couldn't move its paws? Would it look like that character from The Exorcist with its head turned around? That would be really cool.

I'm sure that there's a lot of other fun experiments you could do with cats. I urge you to try them, and tell me what happens.


  1. you are fucking sick.

  2. If you threw a cat in space, the cat would maintain its velocity and rotation without being able to adjust its orientation. This would remain true until the cat encountered an opposing force, gravitational pull, or friction with another object or atmosphere. I'm not a physicist so I might be leaving something out or incomplete, but in space, there's no friction or fluid/aerodynamics like on Earth, so adjusting orientation is impossible unless an opposing force is generated by an exchange in mass (like with a rocket engine).

    I agree that this theory should be thoroughly tested by sending as many cats careening through space as possible. Giant squids or octopi would be pretty sweet too.

  3. If cat's always land on their feet and butter bread always lands butterside down, what would happen if you strapped a piece of butter bread to the back of a cat and dropped them?