Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives?
23 March, 2018
Almost everyone has heard the myth that cats have nine lives. Wouldn’t it be great if that were actually true and our cats would live with us well nine times their lives? But, the real is question is where did the myth come from that we all continue to spout even today?
William Shakespeare refers to the nine lives myth in his play Romeo and Juliet. There is also an ancient proverb that claims, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.”
Cats have the righting reflex – they can right themselves from a bad fall in mid-air
Science dictates to us that cats do not, in fact, have nine lives like we do, but only one. Cats do have lightning reflexes cats coupled with their ability to right themselves from a fall from a great distance due to their ‘righting reflex’ gives us the impression that cats can survive practically any catastrophe. Cats have a huge reputation for their jumping and landing abilities. Their extremely good balance coupled with their flexible backbones add to their survivability capabilities.
When mid-air or falling form a building, cats will invariably land on their feet
Some people believe the nine lives myth is related to cats’ ability to always land on their feet. Cats are also known for their dexterity and agility. Due to their flexibility in their bones and ligaments enables cats to avoid injury form many accidents. Cats that have had higher falls usually had the best chance of survival, likely because they had more time to right themselves to the optimal posture to land with the least impact on their body.
In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals worshipped as gods
In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred animals that were worshipped as gods. Ancient Egyptians believed that cats were divine creatures with psychic or supernatural powers. The idea that they could have multiple lives fit right in with their view of cats.
The ancient Egyptian sun god, Atum-Ra, was believed to take the form of a cat on visits to the underworld. Legend has it that Atum-Ra gave birth to eight other gods and thus represented nine lives in one.
This nine lives myth exists in many cultures around the world
Others believe the number may have come from China, where the number nine is considered lucky. The number nine — sometimes called “the trinity of trinities” — is also believed to be mystical in many religions and regions around the world.
The myth that cats have multiple lives exists in many cultures around the world. It’s not always nine lives, though. Some Spanish-speaking regions believe cats have seven lives, while Turkish and Arabic legends claim cats have six lives.
So the myth or proverb continues. Curiosity ultimately does not kill the cat because these feline explorers tend to knock themselves out and get up again! And again!