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Do Cats Actually Have 9 Lives? The Science Behind the Myth

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

blue tabby maine coon cat running outdoors

Do Cats Actually Have 9 Lives? The Science Behind the Myth


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Have cats actually been blessed with nine lives? This age-old enigma has perplexed us for generations, yet the answer is much more intriguing than you might imagine.

We may never know the exact origin of the myth. Unfortunately, cats do not have nine lives, but science has uncovered fascinating facts about felines and their relationship to danger that might explain why this myth has persisted for so long. Let’s look at the science behind cats’ legendary longevity and find out if there’s any truth to it!

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Is It Scientifically Proven That Cats Have Nine Lives?

While the idea of cats having nine lives may seem like an old wives’ tale, there is actually some science to back it up.

  • Cats have a unique set of physical attributes and behaviors that make them incredibly resilient and adept at avoiding danger. They’re small and agile, so they can often escape from dangerous situations with ease.
  • Their flexible bodies enable them to squeeze into tight spaces to hide from predators or fit through narrow openings in a pinch.
  • A cat also has an uncanny ability to land on their feet no matter how high they fall due to a natural ability to turn in the air during a free fall known as the “air righting reflex”. It enables them to reduce the impact of a long fall and often avoid serious injury or death.

So, while science can’t prove that cats have nine lives, it can certainly explain why the myth has existed for so long! Cats are capable of doing things that enable them to avoid danger and survive when other animals might not be so fortunate. It’s no wonder that cats have earned the reputation of having multiple lives!

side view of a blue tabby white maine coon cat jumping down from birch tree in the back yard
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

How Many Lives Do Cats Actually Have?

As we’ve deduced, there is not a magical number of lives that cats have—they can die just like any other animal. With that fact comes the same onus to protect them from harm and take proper care of them. Our feline friends should be treated with the same level of respect that we would grant any other creature in nature, as cats are still vulnerable animals.

That said, cats do experience a certain degree of protection from danger due to their agility and reflexes, so they may have a bit of an edge when it comes to avoiding harm. This means cats can survive situations that other animals might not be able to, making them seem like they have more lives than most.

cat resting with owner on sofa at home
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

Cat Care Tips Considering This Myth

Now that you know the science behind cats’ legendary nine lives, it’s time to put this myth to rest and focus on taking proper care of these beloved pets.

  • Cats should be provided with a safe, comfortable environment free from harm or danger. This may include keeping them indoors or providing some way for them to escape from potential predators.
  • Regular veterinary checkups are also essential to monitor their health and well-being, as cats can get sick just like any animal. In addition, given their natural instinct not to show signs of illness, a vet examination can be vital to detect problems in your feline that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your cat lives a long and happy life—no matter how many times they may have narrowly escaped danger.

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So, do cats have nine lives? While the origin of this myth may remain a mystery, science has revealed that cats are incredibly resilient creatures, capable of escaping danger and surviving situations where other animals might not.

However, the best way to ensure your cat’s longevity is by providing them with a safe environment and regular checkups from your veterinarian.

In the end, your cat’s life may not be nine times longer than other animals, but it can still be a long and happy one!

Featured Image Credit By: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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