How Do Cats Deal With Being Weightless?

Since my previous post was about dogs, its time to give equal time to the cats … although I’m guessing the cat lovers of the world won’t have a great reaction to this one. Here’s some footage from some the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories which include a test of the effects of weightlessness on cats in a C-131 “vomit comet” that simulates weightlessness. Best I can tell, this research was done in 1947. Think of it in the same vein as all those weird tests the early astronauts had to endure.

The text from the video: “In these experiments you can see the disorientation resulting when an animal is suddenly placed in a weightless state. Cats when dropped under normal conditions will invariably rotate their bodies longitudinally in midar and land on their feet. This automatic reflex action is almost completely lost under weightlessness.”

The research was conducted by Bioastronautics Research, part of the Air Force and the Department of Defense.

Amy Shira Teitel has a great post about the early medical tests on astronauts: As she wrote, “The Mercury astronauts only half joked during a 1959 press conference that the doctors had probed every orifice the human male has to offer, and then some, all in the name of ‘science’.”

4 Replies to “How Do Cats Deal With Being Weightless?”

  1. OK… I’m an AVID animal lover especially felines. I have automatic repulsion to images I see depicting what I would consider to be cruel behavior to ANY living being, especially animals and especially cats. However, this footage not only missed that knee-jerk mark on me entirely, I found myself chuckling with amusement at the kittehs’ experience. Not only that, I am now wishing I could expose my two lovely little ladies as well to a parabolic joyride such as this to see THEIR reaction to it. Thanks for the smiles, Nancy!! 😉

    1. It’s not really much more cruel than goading them into a frenzy with a laser pointer and having them jump into walls. If you had a kitty in a zero-G environment for a longer time, I’m sure they would get used to it and come to enjoy flying around the place.

      Low-gravity places like the Moon or Ceres would be fun for cats as well.

  2. SciFi short story subject: Cats are taken into orbit and trained to function in zero gravity. This mission was instigated after mice got into a shipment of supplies sent to the ISS and escaped into machinery and air transfer ducts. Later, it was serendipitously found that spraying the cats tails lightly with a reduced fish oil(s) solution makes them effective dust collectors.


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