Though considered cuddly and cute; cats are surrounded by an aura of a mystic. They are perceived to be sacred as well as ominous by many. In fact, cats have inspired the imagination of writers and poets, since the time they were first domesticated. However, you cannot deny the fact that there are many myths and misconceptions. One being the “9 lives.” So, the question is, do cats really have 9 lives, or it is just a myth? After researching for a while now, we have come up with few answers. Read further to know.
Do Cats Really Have 9 Lives?
If you have ever seen Kelly the Kitty or Mr. Whiskers fall without any scratch, then you should have already known their reputation! There are many unusual euphemisms, sayings, and anecdotes in the English language regarding cats.
Ever wondered why do cats have nine lives? Indeed, you must have heard people saying that phrase. How far is this true? Learn about them in the below section.
The life of a cat
Most cats subsist for around 14 years. There are some cases where a cat lived for 30 years and even beyond. The myth that cats have 9 lives must have probably emerged because of their ability to escape from dangerous circumstances without harm.
Moreover, a cat has a sharp memory, exceptional sense of smell, sense of hearing and keen eyesight. All these with their agility and swiftness help them get out of any danger.
Surely most people today don’t believe cats really possess 9 lives, but one inevitably wonders why and how the saying came into existence in the first place. One of the most obvious explanations for this belief is a simple fact that the cat is such a resilient and agile creature and seems to survive situations where other creatures would not.
Cats 9 Lives Myth.
A cat is very crafty and resilient. It can survive great falls from vast distances. Hence, a cat having nine lives is only a superstition. Since cats can survive high falls with fewer injuries, it gives an appearance that they can return to life.
Granted, they might sustain slight injuries like cracked teeth, some broken ribs or bloody noses but they still survive to recover. Now, the ability of cats to reside such fatal accidents isn’t due to multiple lives. It is due to the various body advantages they own. Their low weight and small size soften the impact as soon as they encounter the ground after falling from immense heights.
Cats have something known as ‘righting reflex’- where they can twist around very quickly in the air if dropped from high places, allowing them to almost always land on their feet. Remember that scene from ‘Catwoman‘? They have excellent balance and reflexes. They have 13 thoracic vertebrae (while humans have 12) and seven lumbar vertebrae (while humans have 5).
The additional lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat’s spinal mobility and unmatched flexibility, allowing it to compress and fit itself into small corners and crevices.
The Myth, Explained.
By nature, cats are tenacious, and they can skirt or overcome any near-death situation. It might be the reason for assuming as if they have several lives. However, why it has to be number “9” in particular?
Nobody knows from where the saying about nine lives came. Some data says that in ancient times the digit 9 was considered lucky, magical and mystical. When cats seemed to escape injuries over and over again, the lucky number “9” suited the cat.
There are several communities which still believes that cats have nine life. If you take Turkish and Arab proverbs, puss has only seven successful lives. If you consider Ancient Egyptian mythology, people used to worship cats as gods.
At any rate, humans throughout the ages have been awed by the hardiness of feline. They have tried to explain their dexterity by building myths and stories revolving around their many lives or powers to reincarnate.
So here is the answer goes, cats don’t really have nine lives. Cats can fall off skyscrapers and other tall buildings and still be able to survive. Still, there are innumerable instances where they have succumbed to the misplaced curiosity of enthusiasts trying to test the extent of their resilience. Perhaps this adds a whole new dimension to another popular idiom, “curiosity killed the cat.”
However, it is a well-known fact that nine lives or not, cats have a maximum lifespan of approximately fifteen years. The oldest living cat named Poppy from Bournemouth is 24 years old as per Guinness World Records 2014. It has picked up the title following the death of Pinky, a cat from Kansas who died at the age of 23, in 2013. Guinness also confirmed that the longest living cat is still Tiffany from San Diego, California. It lived for 27 years 2 months 20 days.
Therefore, you only have a few more years with the cats you see around today, be it your house-cat or the cat in your street, which has made everyone’s life difficult with her rude behavior.
So think once before you try to hit a cat with that stick for stealing your milk or before you tie that trail of firecrackers onto her tail or just run over one on the highway. They too have only one life just like you and me. Even they have the rights to live on this planet, just like you and me.
We hope you have the answer to your question after reading the article. If you have some other clarifications regarding a cat’s nine lives, which you think we have missed writing them here, feel free to drop in the comments section.