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Shooting cats with a chronophotographic gun
May 11, 2011 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Do cats always land on their feet? No. Unless...
posted by furtive (37 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The greater question should be why did I read your question as 'do turtles always land on their feet'? I was all set to answer 'because turtles ≠ cats', but now that would just be silly.
posted by item at 10:03 AM on May 11, 2011


As long as there's gravity, and the cat hasn't reached terminal velocity.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


NOTE: A cat with a piece of buttered toast attached to its back, butter side up, will not land on its feet. In fact the forces create by this configuration will cause the cat to hover.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


*goes off to make toast*
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011


This is really a design issue. It all depends on the arm length, placement of the fulcrum, and how much counterweight is on your trebuchet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:17 AM on May 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


This raises important questions about the need for an ethics committee governing posts.
posted by biffa at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2011


I would add a 4th requirement to this, which is that the fall starts with minimal rotational velocity around the cat's longitudinal axis.

Example: one of my cats was trying to be cute by rolling around on top of a table in my kitchen. Unfortunately the table is round, so when he rolled to the edge of it, there was nothing under his paws for him to arrest his rotation, and he continued rolling right off the edge. The poor little guy landed on his side from about 2.5 feet up. Oof!

I theorize that starting the fall with some initial rotation totally interfered with the righting reflex. He also fell onto his food bowl, flipping it into the air and causing cat food to rain down on him. So I also theorize that his expression, as he struggled to his feet and walked away, signified:
"I meant to do that!"
posted by FishBike at 10:25 AM on May 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


This is really a design issue. It all depends on the arm length, placement of the fulcrum, and how much counterweight is on your trebuchet catapult .
posted by JimmyJames at 10:34 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have a stray in basket behind me as I type this who's broken her left hind leg and cracked her pelvis and a rib falling off a roof in our compound yard yesterday. I suspect she got her feet down but three storeys was just too far, poor wee sod. She's looking pretty relaxed about it all mind, and sleeping softly.
posted by Abiezer at 10:40 AM on May 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why dont we cut through this bullshit and just get a cat.metafilter.com board going. It will be the largest online compendium of cat behavior, pictures, and jokes.

Larger than the vatican, and larger than kinsey. All cats all the time.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:44 AM on May 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


NOTE: A cat with a piece of buttered toast attached to its back, butter side up, will not land on its feet. In fact the forces create by this configuration will cause the cat to hover.

This strikes me as incorrect, as the orientation of both toast and cat are altered through the establishment of rotational forces, and should happily fall. However, the combined unit should spin, and as angular acceleration will be proportional to distance from the ground the angular velocity of the diad should be such that the angular velocity rapidly increases towards infinity prior to touchdown. However, this is under the assumption that both elements are point masses occupying the same space; if, for example, we take the condition where cat and toast are point masses connected by a rigid massless pole the situation becomes very different, as, for example, the mass currently closer to the ground accelerates considerably faster than the one farther away. In this case the accelerations become such that in practical terms either the cat or toast should be destroyed before we reach the boundary condition. This is a good thing, as the consequences of a unit with infinite rotational energy striking a surface are unthinkable.
posted by monocyte at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Larger than the vatican

The .... catican?
posted by kingbenny at 10:54 AM on May 11, 2011 [5 favorites]



Why dont we cut through this bullshit and just get a cat.metafilter.com board going. It will be the largest online compendium of cat behavior, pictures, and jokes.

This. So much this. Until this happens, I will be posting SLYTs featuring wombats every week to even things out.
posted by mochapickle at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2011


The .... catican?

Mark this as the day metafilter turned into fark.
posted by joecacti at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2011


As long as there's gravity, and the cat hasn't reached terminal velocity.

The more interesting question: Is it true that the terminal velocity of a cat is not fatal?
posted by straight at 11:22 AM on May 11, 2011


Depends on where it hits you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:26 AM on May 11, 2011


This strikes me as incorrect, as the orientation of both toast and cat are altered through the establishment of rotational forces, and should happily fall. However, the combined unit should spin, and as angular acceleration will be proportional to distance from the ground the angular velocity of the diad should be such that the angular velocity rapidly increases towards infinity prior to touchdown. However, this is under the assumption that both elements are point masses occupying the same space; if, for example, we take the condition where cat and toast are point masses connected by a rigid massless pole the situation becomes very different, as, for example, the mass currently closer to the ground accelerates considerably faster than the one farther away. In this case the accelerations become such that in practical terms either the cat or toast should be destroyed before we reach the boundary condition. This is a good thing, as the consequences of a unit with infinite rotational energy striking a surface are unthinkable.

Previously.

(Note: Big ol' self-link.)
posted by Mayor West at 11:34 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It depends on how fast the conveyor belt is going.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure my cats reach terminal velocity on a daily basis when they decide to have one of their spastic I-chase-you-through-the-apartment-one-way-and-then-you-chase-me-back-the-other-50-times-in-a-row attacks.

The noise generated by cats speeding on carpet is quite amazing.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:04 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


this grand idea of the buttered toast reminds of who will bell the cat?
my large male cat will not allow any thing attached to its back, first problem is to attach the toast and have the cat stay calm till the cat drop test. not mine for sure, maybe i'll get a dog and try this mean trick on the dog.
posted by taxpayer at 1:35 PM on May 11, 2011


My cat manages to fall off of things onto her side, front legs, face, back, and bum on a regular basis. She's very agile, but I have never thought this rule was true. :)
posted by FunkyStar at 1:49 PM on May 11, 2011


If you cut off a cat's feet (at least two) and drop it down a tube with the cat's feet placed on the bottom you can ensure that the cat will land on it's feet regardless of the height the cat is dropped from.
posted by I Foody at 2:07 PM on May 11, 2011


No, because when your cat is deeply sleeping all curled up in a little ball on a particularly springy bed, and you creep up, reach out, and start bouncing it like you are dribbling a basket ball, the cat doesn't have time to clear its head and orient itself feet down, so it will bounce a half dozen times before it has a chance to reach a stabilized upright position.

Also, you are a terrible person for doing this.
posted by quin at 2:08 PM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you have slightly nervous cats, and you make a loud, sharp sound when an unsuspecting cat is strolling by, you might get the cat to levitate as much as five or six inches. All four feet off the floor is worth more points than just two feet. You are a terrible person if you laugh your ass off.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cat pennies.
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:39 PM on May 11, 2011


I don't have a cat. I am, however, a terrible person.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:46 PM on May 11, 2011


But if you have extremely nervous cats, and sneak up behind them when they are peacefully snoozing in the sun, and suddenly pop a blown-up paper bag, you can actually initiate their slide into another dimension. From which they may or may not return, now as Pallas Cats.

Also, you are a terrible person for opening the dimensional rift.
posted by likeso at 3:05 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if you have cats with PTSD and fire a fifty caliber handgun in their general direction? Would that make you a terrible person? But like I said: I don't have any cats. At the moment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2011


"What is with that cat?"
"Is someone throwing it?"
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2011


Uh... NO! NO, I AM NOT!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:59 PM on May 11, 2011


The more interesting question: Is it true that the terminal velocity of a cat is not fatal?

Correct, more or less. They have much less mass than say a human or a horse. J.B.S. Haldane noted this back in 1928:

"You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes."

Cats are particularly well-suited to long falls due to their rubber-band like construction.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 5:35 PM on May 11, 2011


> If you have slightly nervous cats, and you make a loud, sharp sound when an unsuspecting cat is strolling by, you might get the cat to levitate as much as five or six inches. All four feet off the floor is worth more points than just two feet. You are a terrible person if you laugh your ass off.

I have seen this.

And I am a terrible person.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:23 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indeed, a well-trained cat can sky-dive sans chute.
posted by myvines at 8:53 PM on May 11, 2011


skydiving cat
posted by dibblda at 12:41 AM on May 12, 2011


There was a study a couple years ago (too lazy to look it up) that showed that cats that dropped from over five stories (I think) were more likely to survive the fall than cats that fall from lower levels. They do relax their bodies and adopt a kind of flying posture.

My beloved cat (now deceased) fell from three stories with no worse results than running around the building howling for about ten minutes.
posted by torticat at 5:20 AM on May 12, 2011


Weightless cats.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:37 AM on May 12, 2011


Not a great link, and Metafilter has had dozens of posts devoted to this topic.

The money factoid is that cat injuries increase up to a seven story fall, but then decrease as they fall from higher stories: Cats can only fall so fast (terminal velocity), so the additional fall time just allows them to prepare themselves better.
posted by dgaicun at 5:30 PM on May 12, 2011


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