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All myths have some kind of fact behind them. Cats usually keep to themselves and seem pretty content with their isolated and unbothered lives. Saying that it’s difficult to get a read on them would be the understatement of the century. There’s a very famous myth that says that our beloved feline friends have nine lives. While this is a far cry from the truth, the story behind the myth is actually pretty interesting.
Cats are admittedly one of the cutest creatures out there. But at what point do they go from being cute, to having nine lives? Although the cool myth is very much false, it is based on a rather spectacular ability that cats have.
They can jump and land on all four legs – with absolute grace. They’re like ninja acrobats in that sense. They can climb really high trees, jump off of really high places for kicks, and even run in front of cars and come out of that unscathed. So an oldwife’s tale came up with the theory that cats don’t just miraculously escape from every dangerous situation, but they simply die and come back to life!
How do cats actually escape from dangerous situations?
There are cats that are known for their ability to jump off of tall buildings, even skyscrapers during earthquakes, and come out of the whole thing without a scratch. Cats always land on their feet because they have righting reflex.
What is righting reflex?
Righting reflex is actually a very interesting concept. It’s your cat’s ability to twist herself very quickly if she’s dropped from a high place, so she can land neatly on all her feet. Cats have even more vertebrae than humans, which makes them extremely flexible. It also, in part, accounts for their incredible reflexes and balance.
What with the number?
The old proverb goes, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.” And if you’re going to give a cat magic lives, nine is as good a number to start with as any. Although this proverb is not factual, it’s based on general feline behavior. They love to play with their prey and although they do come back most of the time, they do also run away whenever given the chance. Cats are tricky that way.
The Greek also used to believe that the number nine represents the trinity of all trinities – a holy number that has remained mystical to all. The number is said to invoke religion and tradition. Magical indeed! While we can’t count on our cats having nine lives, we can always count on them landing safely. They’ll be around for a long while.