Have you ever heard the phrase, “Cats are liquid?” People usually say this when they refer to our kitties’ uncanny abilities to look like they are taking the shape of any container or to almost impossibly slip through cracks and openings that seem way too small. Of course, cats are not actually liquid–but if they are really solid, how do they move, contort, and manipulate their bodies in ways that seem so odd to us humans? How do cats always manage to look like they’ve poured themselves into their surroundings?
There are a few reasons cats seem like they’re liquid. First, cats are attracted to small, confined spaces. This is why your kitty might jump in any open box you leave lying around. These places help cats feel safe and secure, and boxes are even known to reduce stress in felines. So cats are more likely to attempt to fit in unusually small spaces than, say, a dog or another animal. It’s in their nature. As the internet meme says, “If I fits, I sits.”
That may be why cats are drawn to small containers, but how do they seem to mold to the shape of wherever they lie down? Well, cats have extremely flexible spines. They have more bones in their spines than humans do, and those bones are separated by special elastic cushioning. Each of the joints in their spines add to their flexibility. This gives felines in the wild a big advantage when hunting prey. Their spines contract to give them longer strides when running, they allow cats to jump higher, they make it easier to make sharp turns when hunting, and they make it possible for cats to realign their bodies when falling. They also make it easy for them to contort comfortably in ways that look ridiculously awkward to us humans and appear like they are made of liquid.
That explains why cats are able to contort their bodies to take the shape of whatever container they lie in, but when it comes to fitting through tight spaces, cats can thank their unusual collar bones. Unlike humans, the collar bones of cats are not attached by bone, but muscle. Chances are good that if a cat can fit their head through something, the rest of their body can follow because their collar bones aren’t in the way. However, that’s not always the case, and cats do get stuck from time to time. Still, cats’ collar bones allow them to fit in some pretty odd places, almost like they’re not even solid.
Does your cat ever seem like they’re made of liquid? Has your kitty gotten into some unusual small spaces? Let us know in the comments below!