One lucky cat is still alive after jumping out of a fifth-floor apartment window to escape a fire on Chicago’s South Side.
Video posted online shows the feline take the leap as smoke is billowing from several windows of the building yesterday.
The cat, who was not injured, narrowly misses hitting a wall on its way down before landing on a patch of grass and strolling away.
From the moment they’re in the air to the instant after they hit the ground, cats’ bodies are built to survive high falls, scientists say.
Cats reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the downward tug of gravity is matched by the upward push of wind resistance, at a slow speed compared to large animals like humans and horses.
Cats can also spread their legs out to create a sort of parachute effect, says Andrew Biewener, a professor of organismal and evolutionary biology at Harvard University.
“They splay out their legs, which is going to expand their surface area of the body, and that increases the drag resistance,” he says.
When they do land, cats’ muscular legs – made for climbing trees – act as shock absorbers.