18 June 2010

How cats walk

"Unlike the dog or the horse... the cat walks by moving the front and back legs on one side of its body and then the front and back legs on the other.  The only other animals to move that way are the camel and the giraffe."
-- from Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats, by Michael Bishop, in Nebula Awards 28 (1994).

I've lived with cats in the house for 20 years, and never noticed this!

7 comments:

  1. And the horse! An animated video of a horse pacing is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_gait#Pace

    In fact horses have a ton of gates:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambling

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  2. This is not true - cats are diagonal walkers - what is unique to them and foxes is that they place their hind paw directly in the spot left by the front paw - called direct registering. When they change their speed all this will change.

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  3. Isn't this just false? That's how cats scamper when they want to move very fast (same as rabbits, no?). It seems very much to me that walking in this fashion would be impractical if not physically impossible.

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  4. It does seem counterintuitive, but look at this video of a white tiger walking in a zoo - one side first, and then the other...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWTfqNPwfDo

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  5. In Amsterdam I had two black cats (unrelated to each other) ... When walking, one was a consistent trotter (she moved her legs in diagonal pairs), and the other a consistent pacer (she moved her legs laterally). The trotter, called "Pino Bosi", lived to be 18 and died of cancer; the pacer, whose name was "Captain Midight of the Space Patrol", lived to be 24 years old... They were lovely cats, both of them!

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  6. Alessandro Franco Fernando Maria Giovanni Baptista BosiMay 1, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    Unlike dogs, with their jumping stick chasing random late night scampering be it with a one leg two leg three leg five motion, cats, on the other hand (or leg) don't move at all. The Universe moves about them and at best they, the cats, reach out to occasionally grab things of interest. I think there is a Feline and Dark Matter/Energy connection that needs further investigation. Schrodinger was onto to something. Thanks for the heads up about the Pino Bosi passing on. It explains why I haven't been getting replies to my SMS messages

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  7. Not true...Tom Brown's tracker school (trackerschool.com) writes of this in detail. All animals pace (left side together, right side together) when aggressive, threatening or bored; some, such as raccoons and skunks, habitually pace.

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