Variables Affecting the Impact of a Fall
- The Height of the Fall
- The height of the fall determines the velocity at which the
falling body will collide with the earth (impact velocity). In
a vacuum, the farther an object falls the greater the impact
velocity. However in the real world, friction from the air
results in a falling body reaching terminal
- The Softness of the Impact Surface
- The amount that the impact surface gives when an object
lands on it affects the stopping distance of the body and thus
the impact force (F).
- 3 Properties of the Falling Body
- Mass - This is another variable determining the impact
force of a falling body. Cats benefit from having a small mass,
which translates to a small impact force.
- Cross-sectional area is related to frictional drag
during an object's fall and also to the stress an object
receives on impact (F/A).
- The ability of the person or animal to dissipate the impact
forces through flexing of muscles and use of joints.
Cats can survive falls remarkably well for several reasons.
Some of these reasons aren't particular to cats, but simply to
small animals. For instance, larger animals experience greater
impact stress and thus bone stress. Although the bones of an
elephant are stronger than that of a cat, they aren't as strong
when considered as a bone strength/mass proportion. Secondly,
large animals reach higher terminal velocities because their area
to mass ratio is less favorable. However, two attributes that are
unique to cats among other small animals are their natural
instinct to land with their legs flexed, which dissipates the
impact force through soft tissue, and their ability to land on
their feet. Parachutists also use the technique of landing with
flexed muscles to dissipate the force of impact, unlike with cats
this skill doesn't come instinctively for them.
**One of the most common injuries suffered by cats
after a fall is nosebleeds.**
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