British anthrozoologist John Bradshaw in his 2014 feline science book Cat Sense reports how cats can survive falls from tall buildings and trees by performing an intricate midair ballet. Their “gravity-detecting” bio systems cause the forelegs and hind legs to rotate to point downward as they fall.
Then “…forming a ‘parachute’ by spreading all four legs out sideways, before adopting the landing position at the last minute. Laboratory simulations suggest that this limits the falling speed to a maximum of fifty-three miles per hour. This tactic apparently allows some cats to survive falls from high buildings with only minor injuries.”
Some cats also counter-rotate their tails fast, like a helicoptor, to stabilize their fall “…while the back is arched to cushion the landing.” Pretty clever, those cats.