Cats are known for their ability to climb and explore inaccessible places. Cats are actually so flexible and agile that they seem to have almost no physical limitations.
Cat owners quickly learn that there are few places a cat can not access once it has decided to do so.
Cats are curious animals by nature and like to inspect every inch of their surroundings. It is their athletic physique and sharp mind that enable them to satisfy this instinctive need to explore.
Why are cats so flexible and agile?
The cat’s spine consists of more than 50 vertebrae (the exact number varies depending on the cat’s tail length).
This surprisingly large number of legs gives a cat increased mobility and also helps it to coordinate the movements between the different body parts.
Unlike a human, whose back can rotate up to 90 degrees, a cat can rotate its back up to 180 degrees. This ability is due to the presence of elastic dampers located between each vertebra in the spine.
The structure of a cat’s paws is also an important factor when it comes to how it can move. Its paws contain powerful shock absorbers that can reduce impact when the cat lands on a hard surface.
The cat can also shed its large claws when it climbs, hunts or defends itself against dangers.
In addition, it is important to mention the ability to sneak and the speed at which this animal moves. Cats are train walkers, which means, just as the name implies, that cats walk on their toes.
Cats also have a floating collarbone, which means that their front legs only sit together with the shoulders via the muscles.
This unusual structural feature, together with the unique placement of their shoulder blades, gives cats greater flexibility and also allows them to move easily in the narrowest of spaces.
But it is not just the anatomy that makes cats so flexible and agile. It is their ability to combine these physical attributes with their finely honed feline senses that makes these animals such remarkable athletes.
One of the most obvious examples is their paws. In addition to the unique anatomical structure, the cat’s paws are also involved in regulating body temperature and detecting vibrations via the ground.
The ability to detect vibrations means that they can always be on the lookout for dangers.
In addition to helping them regulate body temperature, a cat’s paw is also an important sensory receptor that detects both pain and movement.
At the same time, this dual functionality works in conjunction with the cat’s powerful whiskers, which play an important role in spatial awareness and orientation.
In addition, cats have a highly developed night vision, which is crucial when they need to navigate obstacles and move at night.
The ears, upper lip and nose contain special sensors that are involved in movement, detecting prey and the ability to escape from potential threats.
Finally, the cat’s inner ear is crucial for room navigation. The inner ear has several functions, but the most important it plays a crucial role in is the so-called “correction reflex”.
This reflex corrects the animal’s orientation and position in case the cat falls from a high altitude.
A cat’s agility and flexibility can sometimes be a disadvantage when it comes to keeping a cat in its house.
Owners need to be aware of their pet’s athletic ability, so that they can cat-secure the areas of the house that they prefer the cat does not visit.