Do Cats Really Have 9 Lives? – The Truth Behind The Myth

When I was still a child, I always heard people saying that cats have nine lives. Little as I was, I even wished that I’ll be like the cat and might have nine lives for myself too. But obviously, like some chocolate being left under the sun, that dream of mine melted away when I knew the real story behind cats having nine lives. The question, Do cats really have 9 lives — may simply come from their nature of being flexible in situations that might harm them. Like other living things, cats have only one life. Just like you and me; and like all other animals as well.

Do Cats Really Have 9 Lives?

Do Cats Really Have 9 Lives

So why do people say that cats have nine lives? Well, this saying has several origins. In fact, each uniquely different from the other but equally interesting. This “9-lives” thing dates back as early as the ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, both of which regard cat as a mystical and magical creature.

In the tales of ancient Egypt, Atum-Ra (the ancient Egyptian sun god), visited the underworld in the form of a cat. Egyptian legends say that the sun god gave birth to eight more gods. Atum-Ra gave life to the gods of the air, moisture, earth and sky. These four gods soon produced four other gods called Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. With these eight other gods and himself being the ninth god, Atum-Ra represented nine lives in one.As with Egypt, early Greece also believed that cats possess magical powers. Ancient Greeks believed that nine was a magical number and called it the “trinity of trinities” which invoked many religions and traditions in the world.

Cat’s Dark Ages

Not all the time, it was glory and honor for cats. There came a time when cats were punished and even killed during the Dark Ages because they were highly convicted as a witch’s accomplice or even the witch herself. In Medieval Europe, cats were thrown outside the window of high towers because of some rituals. This event is still celebrated today as an annual cat festival. Real lived cats were used to re-enact the scenes of throwing them outside the window until 1817. However, cats ran away and were never recovered so they are now using toy cats instead.

There is also an original piece of long prose literature in English which is the earliest prose and most possible origin of the nine lives published in 1533 called Beware the Cat. The author of this prose is William Baldwin who wrote — “it is permitted for a witch to take her cat’s body nine times”.

In addition, it may also originate from an old English proverb which states, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays”. Even William Shakespeare used the nine lives myth in his play Romeo and Juliet.

Do Cats Really Have 9 Lives?
Do cats have nine lives always in myth? No, not all the time. Since cultures and beliefs vary from one place to another, there are also different views on the lives of cats. Stories from Arab and Turkey claim that cats have 6 lives while some regions who are Spanish-speaking believe that they have 7. No matter how many lives a cat has, it all points out to one astonishing fact that it can survive almost every fall and incidents that might have killed other animals or even us.
Cats Have Righting Reflex To Protect Themselves… Read This

The cat’s ability to survive falls and other catastrophic events was best explained through science when a French photographer and physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey did something with a cat. He held a cat upside down by its legs and dropped it. All the movements were captured by a camera and it showed every action taken by the cat. The cat was able to right itself and landed on its feet by twisting and manoeuvring its whole body to lessen the impact and survive the fall.

Cats are blessed to have the “righting reflex”. This is their ability to right their position and twist around very quickly in mid-air when they are falling and to land safely on the ground. If other animals attempt the same jump or fall, there is a very big chance that it will take their lives away unlike with cats. Cats are well-known for their adventurous and quite risky tactics of jumping from one place to another even from the roofs of houses to the tallest of the buildings and land in an uprightly manner, safe and sound. There are also situations where cats survived earthquakes and collapsing buildings due to their keen ability and agility.

However, this righting reflex have one key point to consider, which is very crucial for the cat to land safely in the fall and that is the height between the point in which he/she is falling from and the point where he/she will land. Studies with regard to cats falling imply that only 90% of cats or so survive with injuries like broken bones and bruises. However, the distance is very critical. If the jump is too high, it may provide a very bad result and if it is too low, the cat may not have the enough time to position himself at all.

Childhood fantasies of owning several lives may have ended here, but it is astonishing to know that this feline has this amazing ability to a righting reflex. With this kind of reflex, it is indeed tantamount to 9 lives or even more for cats. This best suited their nature though because cats are definitely playful and are risk takers. Hence, this kind of flexibility and agility will help them protect themselves from harm and any untoward incident. Indeed, these little felines and kitty are cute and adorable with all of their fluff and fur but also one of a kind in the animal kingdom because they are the very few, if not the only one, who can jump from one place to another in higher distances without hurting themselves.

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