The physics of skulking and falling cats

Cats may skulk, and cats may fall – but no matter what they do, cats must obey the laws of physics. Scientists have tried repeatedly to figure out how they manage to do it.

At the extreme, physicists analysed what happens to a dropped cat. That’s a cat in free-fall, a cat hurtling earthwards with nothing but kitty cunning to keep it from crashing.

In 1969, TR Kane and MP Scher of Stanford University, in California, published a monograph called A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon. It remains one of the few studies about cats ever published in the International Journal of Solids and Structures. Kane and Scher explain…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian

BONUS: Lagrangian Reduction and the Falling Cat Theorem

BONUS: Investigator tic_tac sends this link to a 3D animation of the two-part-model by Kane and Scher:

BONUS: Video of an electromechanical mule. The laws of physics apply to it as much as they do to a skulking or falling cat: