A few years ago we renovated the kitchen at Cat Habitat HQ. One evening as Mr Pet Parent and I sat eating takeaway for the umpteenth night in a row, we heard scratching coming from the general direction of the kitchen. Quickly dismissing the likelihood that we had become the backdrop for a local amateur production of The Exorcist, roll call was taken of the feline members of the household. Soph? Here. Pussa? Not a meow. Mr Pet Parent was unanimously volunteered to be the one to investigate the source of the mysterious scratching by which time a determination had been made that it was coming from inside one of the walls. Lying on his back on the now de-tiled floor and shining his trusty torch up through what remained of our kitchen pantry, he found a pair of gleaming eyes staring back at him. Chief-trouble-maker-Pussa had managed to get herself in through a hole that was seemingly the size of a tennis ball, up behind the half dismantled pantry and into the cavity where the plumbing was. At this point even Pussa had figured out that this was not an ideal situation to be in, but appeared unable and unwilling to move further up or retreat back. Some impromptu cupboard demolition followed (no doubt the neighbours were thrilled given it was 9 o’clock at night) after which Pussa was safely extracted from being stuck for the rest of her remaining lives with only pipes for company. At the conclusion of the emergency, we of course asked ourselves “How the hell did she get through a hole that was so small”?
The answer is basically because of a cat’s immense flexibility. This is partly due to the rotational ability of their spine which has elastic-like cushioning discs in-between each vertebra. Furthermore, cats have additional lumbar and thoracic vertebra when compared to humans providing them with superior spinal mobility. This spinal mobility explains how cats can contort themselves to fit into all manner of uncomfortable looking positions, but not necessarily how they get themselves into confined spaces. They can do that by virtue of the way their shoulders are constructed. The basis of a human shoulder are the bones, which is a ball and socket joint, and the rotator cuff muscles and tendons which provide support. Cat’s shoulders are joined only by muscles allowing the shoulder a vast range of motion and explains why cats can pretty much squeeze through any space they can get their noggin’ through.
These physiological characteristics are what makes cats so goddamn fascinating for us humans.
Whether your Favourite Feline wants to…
..curl up in their Slumber Yard
…stretch out on your armchair
…or fight the good fight against their arch enemy the Cat Teaser
…they can thank their good genetics.