Do cats have 9 lives?

Would the proverbial curiosity really kill a cat? Most people would not answer in the affirmative given the fact that cats are known to have the legendary nine lives. Cats appear to have the ability to efficiently dodge death. Apart from the curiosity, cats are known to be courageous explorers and fearless acrobats that would survive death defying stunts. These intrepid animals would have no second thoughts in taking risks…after all they have nine lives. Can cats really avoid the scythe of the “Reaper”? Do cats really have nine lives? Cats may cling more tenaciously to life as compared to other animals but contrary to the common notion, cats only have one life.

Cats have an aura of mystery because these animals are linked to a number of superstitious beliefs. Cats are associated with occultism and witchcraft. During the ancient times, it was generally believed that cats were used as witches’ familiar. Witches would take the lives of cats during witch trials. A cat’s life can be used by witches nine times. Cats’ legendary nine lives probably began in Egypt where cats became revered animals. Cats were prominently featured in folklore. Legend has it that Atum Ra; a sun god that was worshipped in Heliopolis (now a suburb of Cairo) created the gods of sky, earth, moisture and air. These gods were collectively known as Ennead which means Nine. Atum Ra visited the underworld in the form of cats…nine cats were personified in one god.

Gods are long forgotten….cats are no longer regarded as divine creatures but the otherworldly and magical impression of cats remain. Myths and legends that support the theory that cats have nine lives remain. Around 962 AD, Count Baldwin 111 of Ypres used cats in rituals. Cats were thrown from a tower and miraculously, the cats survived. This “miracle” during the middle ages was explained in the 19th century. The truth to the notion that cats have 9 lives was brought to light when the cats’ ability to survive a great fall was explained.

The cats’ ability to survive a fall that would kill humans and other animals was not attributed to these animals’ nine lives but to the innate abilities that these animals possess. Cats would survive falling from great heights with very few injuries because these animals have well developed inner ears that allow them to have excellent sense of balance. Right after the fall, this sense of balance will let a cat immediately determine its position and make the necessary adjustment to ensure that the impact is minimized. The cat will change the position of the heads, the legs and the tail so that the body would take on an umbrella shape. In this position, the area where the air will push is increased thereby slowing the fall. Because the position of the legs were righted, the cat will be able to land on bended knees thus the impact is not focused on the legs but spread to the joints and the muscles. What is more amazing with these animals is that the higher the fall the greater is their chance to survive. Falling from 2 to 6 stories can result to 10% fatalities while only 5% fatalities will occur in cats falling from 7 to 32 stories.

Cats do have the ability to cushion the fall but this is not to say that cats would not be fatally injured. Cats do not have 9 lives and a bad fall can snuff the life of the little pet. Cats do have admirable grace and flexibility but because they really do not have 9 lives cat owners must ensure that the pet is kept safe from any kind of accident.