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Chicago cat miraculously uninjured after leaping from the 5th story of a burning building

They say cats have nine lives for good reason.

The Chicago Fire Department captured a cat's miraculous plunge from the fifth floor of a burning building on video, and the fact that the cat came away from the jump uninjured is an incredible testament to feline physiology.

Someone from the fire department was filming the exterior of the building while firefighters fought the fire. Suddenly, a black paw reaches out a window of the fifth floor. Then it disappears for a bit—time for whatever spacial calculus cats do in their heads—and then a whole cat leaps out and sails downward, legs outstretched as onlookers gasp and scream.

Somehow, he manages to clear the concrete wall and land on a narrow patch of grass, bouncing once as he hit the ground on all fours. Then he ran off to hide under one of the firefighter's cars.

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"It went under my car and hid until she felt better after a couple of minutes and came out and tried to scale the wall to get back in," fire department spokesman Larry Langford told The Guardian. He said the cat was uninjured. (No other injuries were reported in the fire, either, thankfully.)

The "she" is actually a "he," and he's a housecat named Hennessy. The owner says he has not returned since the fire and neighbors are on the lookout for him in the Englewood neighborhood.

How do some cats perform such feats and walk away unscathed? It's actually a fairly simple—though still super impressive—mix of physics and physiology.

For one, a cat's terminal velocity is comparatively low, so they don't hit the ground as fast as we would. They also have a relatively large surface area in comparison to their weight, which reduces the force with which they hit the ground.

Of course, cats can and do injure themselves falling or jumping from high heights. But their survival rate is pretty mind-blowing.

In 1987, researchers studied 132 cats brought to a New York City emergency veterinary clinic after falling from high-rise buildings. A whopping 90% of treated cats survived and only 37% needed emergency treatment. One cat even fell 32 stories onto concrete and only ended up with a chipped tooth and a collapsed lung. It was released after 48 hours.

"Being able to survive falls is a critical thing for animals that live in trees, and cats are one of them," Dr. Jake Socha, a biomechanist at Virginia Tech, told the BBC. "The domestic cat still contains whatever suite of adaptations they have that have enable cats to be good up in trees."

If cats fall, they are quickly able to rotate their bodies to land feet-down. If they jump like the black cat did from the burning building, they have even more control. Cats will splay out their legs to create more drag, like a parachute, and their powerful leg muscles act as shock absorbers (which explains the bounce when Hennessy hit the grass).

The way cats' legs are built also help keep their bones from breaking.

"If the cat were to land with its legs directly under him in a column and hold him stiff, those bones would all break," Dr. Socha told the BBC. "But they go off to the side and the joints then bend, and you're now taking that energy and putting it into the joints and you're getting less of a force at the bone itself."

That doesn't mean, of course, that it's perfectly safe to let your cat hang out on your balcony. Cats being injured from falls from high heights is known as feline highrise syndrome. People assume that because cats can survive leaping from great heights that it's not a problem if they do, and since cats do like high places, being careless about windows or balconies can put pet cats in danger. Falls put them at risk of serious injury, such as shattered jaws, broken teeth and limbs, or punctured lungs.

Our feline friend in Chicago gave us an impressive example of what cats are capable of, but he was lucky to walk away uninjured. Thanks to the firefighter who made sure Hennessy was okay, and hope he finds his way back home soon.


Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Something joyful for everyone.

From sleepy pups to smooth skate moves, there's plenty of reasons to smile.

When the internet is full of dreary headlines, it’s even more important to balance it all out with things that spark joy.

Whether it comes from cute kids and animals, amazing art or wholesome acts of kindness, things that make us smile help remind our hearts that the world is indeed a big place, containing both the bad and the good. Sometimes it might take a little extra scouring to find what makes us smile, but Upworthy is here to make the search a little bit easier.

Without further ado, let’s get uplifted:

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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