Cats are born tightrope performers: walking along fences, shower screens, retaining walls – even power lines! I often watch my Charlie Bear walking along the top of our shower – walking, pausing, turning, reversing – all the while looking as steady and controlled as though his four giant paws were on the ground! I can’t help but marvel at this innate ability to balance because for one, heights make me dizzy, and secondly, I have childhood memories of plummeting off the balance beam in gymnastics! (I’m a writer, not a gymnast LOL)
So how is it that our cats can perform these amazing feats without breaking a sweat or falling to their death? Well, have you ever watched videos of purebreds such as the Manx, or the Cymric? You will notice that they lack these quintessential cat abilities to climb and balance like a pro. So why is this? Because they lack a tail!
The tail of a cat acts as a stabilizer and balancing aid. It takes a lot of practice as a kitten, (and many a rough landing!), but as they grow, they learn, and leaping and landing becomes second nature. Their tail is instrumental to this success, acting as a counterbalance to their body as they move along narrow paths such as fences or gutters. Watch your cat the next time that it leans to one side and you will notice that its tail moves to the opposite. This counterbalance helps to maintain their weight at a central point, and aids immeasurably with their aerial acrobatics!
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