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How cats fall

Most members of the feline family tend to view the area from a height. Large forest cat lynxes spend most of their time in trees, in ambush or in pursuit of prey. And the lions and leopards in the savannahs of Africa adapted in the hot time to rest in the trees, spreading out on branches and lowering their paws down. It happens, however, that cats do not hold up and fall. But in the fall, they have their own characteristics. Many had to watch an ordinary cat fall, tearing off the eaves of a house, from a tree or from a fence. At first she falls to the ground with her head, back or sideways, but then, after making a sharp turn in the air, she turns out and gets on her feet. Always like this. No matter how the cat falls, it always lands on its paws and immediately can run on. Such an instant alignment of the body position in cats is provided by the action of its vestibular apparatus.

When a cat falls, the vestibular apparatus helps it to carry out a series of successively occurring reflexes and land on its paws. An abnormal position of the body in space irritates the otolithic device of the canals of the cat’s inner ear. In response to this irritation, a reflex contraction of the neck muscles occurs, bringing the animal’s head to a normal position with respect to the horizon. This is the first reflex. The contraction of the cervical muscles and the setting of the neck when turning the head are the causative agent for the implementation of another reflex – the reduction of certain muscles of the trunk and limbs. As a result, the animal takes the correct position.

This complex congenital chain reflex has developed in some animals as an adaptation to lifestyle. After all, animals, especially those from the cat family, often have to jump and fall from trees, rocks or from the back of their prey during hunting. And if they did not have this adaptive reflex, they would not only have lost their prey, but sometimes the hunter himself would have to suffer from the teeth, horns or hoofs of his victim.

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