The cat may not have the legendary nine lives as well as eight senses, but it does, on occasions, have miraculous escapes which can be accredited to its wonderful sense of balance. A human is likely to fall from a height as a dead weight; the cat, on the other hand, whether falling from just a little way or from a building, will twist its body so that it manages to land on four feet. It does, to quote, the noted veterinarian and animal behaviourist, Michael Fox, have a righting reflex, the extended legs being very resilient and acting as landing pads to reduce the chances of the cat sustaining a severe back or internal injury. Let your cat fall from your arms and you will see how it twists its body and lands firm.
Cats have a good sense of balance and do generally land on their feet. In spite of this, many are sometimes badly injured falling from roofs and windows, so if you live in a flat, it is a good idea to wire-in balconies if they are very high up and the cat is in the habit of lying outside. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry!
My husband likes to tell the tale of a family pet cat who, given a new home by neighbours when his parents moved from London to Brighton, turned up three weeks later at the door of their new Brighton home. On a humbler level I was amazed, and delighted, when our lilac-point Siamese asked to be let out within an hour of arrival at our new home, wandered cautiously round the precincts, then presented himself at the window for re-admittance, a procedure he followed for the next few days, staying out for longer periods on each occasion until he obviously felt secure as to his whereabouts.
The cat has, like the carrier pigeon, an uncanny homing device. Some say this is because of its exquisite sense of timing and that it can find its way according to the position of the sun; others attribute this facility to clairvoyance, the supernatural power from which cats can never really be disassociated.