Interesting discussion tonight on whether a cat can survive falling out of a plane.


Not one for boring discussions, this was initially proposed by me and -a first- seconded by another friend.  With two people objecting to the idea that a cat could survive, and lively debate ensued.  For survival TEAM A (indented). versus  "PETA's not going to be happy" (TEAM B).

The first bone of contention was the terminal velocity.  TEAM B reckoned that the cat would hit the ground so fast it's die for definate on impact.  TEAM A came up with the following:

The cat has a terminal velocity of 60mph, compared to a human's T.V. of 120mph.

Ok, so we've got our first 'fact' agreed upon.  However, 60mph is still reckoned to be too fast for a cat to survive.

When the cat reaches it's terminal velocity, it no longer sense that there are forces acting upon it and so relaxes.  We then end up with a 'spread eagled cat.'  This increases air resistance, so the cat does in fact slow down.

In what was probably a fair comment, TEAM B reckoned that even at 60mph a spread-eagled cat would have horrific internal injuries and still die.  Especially a spread-eagled cat whose stomach would hit the floor first.

TEAM A suggested that a spread eagled cat would infact be in a very good position to absorb alot of the impact.  The assumption by TEAM B that the spread eagled cat's stomach would hit the ground first we hypothesised to be incorrect.  As the cat would not be able to put it's legs perpendicular to the angle of descent (i.e. horizontal) they would provide the first point of contact, and absorb energy (unfortunately, likely breaking bones/tendons/muscle tissue) in the process.

TEAM B pounced at this point and suggested that a broken bone could quite easily be severe enough to cut an artery and kill the cat.

TEAM A responded saying that if the cat's leg muscles were to absorb 20mph of velocity on impact (and not break), then there would be only a 30-40mph impact on the cat as a whole. Which spread out over the surface area of the cat should be enough to leave it stunned but not dead.

The night ended in a stalemate, with neither team wanting to concede defeat.  None of the debaters were prepared to test the hypothesis empirically, as none of us are interesting in cruelty to animals.  This debate was purely about the physical ability of a cat's muscular and skeletal structure.  Something which is pretty amazing.

Please feel free to add your voice to the debate in the comment box below:

I did, however, find this rather shocking video.. I guess only the russians could get away with this.

Cat Jumps off a Plane and Lands on it's legs