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Cats in motion are wonderful to watch. Their movements am incredibly smooth and finely coordinated, giving them an almost unearthly gracefulness. They seem to be able to jump, twist and dart in just about any direction, making even our best human efforts appear clumsy by comparison.

Like all other mammals, cats have a basic skeletal structure which shares many bones in common with the human form. However, in the case of the cat there are a number of modifications to this form which gives it special abilities.

Cats have small feet and they walk on their toes. This allows them to run very fast as not much of their body touches the ground to slow them down. Combined with their soft paws this means they can run or walk very quietly, easily springing up on you by surprise!

Cats have a reduced collar bone which allows increased mobility of their shoulder. In fact, all their joints have far greater mobility than found in most mammals which is part of the reason why they are so agile.

But the thing that gives them the most mobility is their amazingly flexible spine. In cats, the vertebrae in the backbone are not as tightly connected together as in many other animals.

Finally, the part of the cat's brain which is involved in coordinating the actions of all those moving parts is very highly developed.

All these things combine to give puss his most famous talent - falling on his feet! This ability is known as the "righting reflex" and it involves a complex set of nerve pathways which allow the cat to twist the whole body around in time to land on its feet.

You must always remember however, that puss is far from infallible. Just because he lands on his feet doesn't mean that he can't break a few bones in the process so it is important to safeguard cats and kittens from falling from heights.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 06/02/07 16:15 Views: 2249

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