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Cat Laws of Physics


picture of kitten in a Pringles can

Even if you don't like them, you have to admit that cats are interesting creatures. Although they can be very animated and move silently at lightening speed, they spend about 20 hours out of every 24 sleeping. That is true not only of domestic cats, but also the big cats like lions and tigers. I didn't grow up with cats since my mom, for whatever reason, said she didn't like them. My wife, however, comes from a long line of "cat people." The first summer of our marriage I brought home an adorable kitten for her. Becka thought we should name her Elsa because she was free. (Think: Born Free....) It didn't take long till I was hooked. That kitten (and later cat) was just so much fun!

One reason some people don't like cats is that they don't understand that cats operate by a different set of laws from dogs. Maybe once those who don't like cats know what these laws are, they can appreciate cats more. But then again, these laws may clinch why cat haters don't like them. Anyway, here's a list of laws to which cats adhere, with an occasional personal story from my experience.

Cat Laws of Physics

Law of Cat Inertia
A cat at rest will tend to remain at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force, such as the opening of cat food, or a nearby scurrying mouse.

Law of Cat Motion
A cat will move in a straight line, unless there is a really good reason to change direction.

Law of Cat Magnetism
All blue blazers and black sweaters attract cat hair in direct proportion to the darkness of the fabric.

Law of Cat Thermodynamics
Heat flows from a warmer to a cooler body, except in the case of a cat, in which case all heat flows to the cat.

Law of Cat Stretching
A cat will stretch to a distance proportional to the length of the nap just taken.

Law of Cat Sleeping
All cats must sleep with people whenever possible, in a position as uncomfortable for the people involved as is possible for the cat.

Law of Cat Elongation
A cat can make his body long enough to reach just about any counter top that has anything remotely interesting on it.

Law of Cat Acceleration
A cat will accelerate at a constant rate, until he gets good and ready to stop.

Law of Dinner Table Attendance
Cats must attend all meals when anything good is served.

Law of Rug Configuration
No rug may remain in its naturally flat state for very long.

Law of Resistance
A cat's resistance varies in proportion to a human's desire for him to do something.

First Law of Energy Conservation
Cats know that energy can neither be created nor destroyed and will, therefore, use as little energy as possible.

Second Law of Energy Conservation
Cats also know that energy can be stored only by a lot of napping.

Law of Kitchen Observation
If a cat watches a refrigerator, a stove, a kitchen cupboard or a microwave oven long enough, someone will come along and take out something good to eat. Corollary: If a cat stands directly behind a human in the kitchen, its tail will be trodden on; the human will then offer the cat something good to eat by way of apology.

Law of Electric Blanket Attraction
Turn on an electric blanket and a cat will jump into bed at the speed of light.

personal story: When we were first married and living in Detroit, we survived the winters by using an electric blanket with dual controls since I prefer to sleep cooler than Becka does. One bitterly cold night, I kept turning up the heat on my side and still couldn't get warm, which was most unusual. Becka said she was plenty warm, which was also most unusual. 🙂 Anyway, I finally figured out that my side was not working. I got up to check to see if everything was firmly attached, only to discover that our dear little Elsa had chewed through the wire on my side! I remember thinking it was too bad it hadn't been while the blanket was on!

Law of Random Comfort Seeking
A cat will always seek, and usually take over, the most comfortable spot in any given room.

Law of Bag / Box Occupancy
All bags and boxes in a given room must contain a cat within the earliest possible nanosecond.

Law of Cat Embarrassment
A cat's irritation rises in direct proportion to his embarrassment, times the amount of human laughter.

Law of Milk Consumption
A cat will drink his weight in milk, squared, just to show you he can.

Law of Furniture Replacement
A cat's desire to scratch furniture is directly proportional to the cost of the furniture.

picture of cat and toast

Law of Cat Landing
A cat will always land in the softest place possible.

Law of Space-Time Continuum
Given enough time, a cat will land in just about any space.

Law of Feline Gravity Manipulation
Cats have the ability manipulate gravity, forming localized areas of strong gravitational attraction, whereby giving the impression of growing heavier as it occupies a lap or bed. This is a linear effect with gravity increasing at a steady rate over time.

Law of Cat Location
It is not possible to predict where a cat actually is, only the probability of where it "might" be. As soon as you know where it is, it will move.

Law of Equidistant Separation
All cats in a given room will locate at points equidistant from each other, and equidistant from the center of the room.

Law of Cat Disinterest
A cat's interest level will vary in inverse proportion to the amount of effort a human expends in trying to interest him.

Law of Pill Rejection
Any pill given to a cat has the potential energy to reach escape velocity.

Law of Selective Listening
Although a cat can hear a can of tuna being opened a mile away, it can't hear a simple command three feet away.

Law of Cat Invisibility
Cats think that if they can't see you, then you can't see them.

Law of Concentration of Mass
A cat's mass increases in direct proportion to the comfort of the lap it occupies.

Law of Feline Vomiting
The frequency that a cat vomits on a given surface is directly proportional to the difficulty of cleaning the given surface and also proportional the likelihood of the given surface to acquire permanent stains.

Law of Cat Composition
A cat is composed of Matter + Antimatter + It Doesn't Matter.

Law of Cat Obedience
As yet undiscovered.

As a cat owner I have discovered why certain expressions exist — cat nap, nervous as a cat, curiosity killed the cat, etc. One expression that we use often is fraidy cat since our cats seem to be afraid of so many things, including people they don't know or don't know well. In connection with that we call them spamalopes, which comes from this Far Side cartoon.

picture of spamalopes

Since the arrival of Megan and Drew, the cats have spent a lot of time hiding under our bed. The moment they hear Drew going to bed, out they come. The other night our grandson Drew woke up several times crying from bad dreams. The cats were in their usual positions at our feet, but I fully expected them to scurry under the bed. In the darkness I could see they were in their "sphinx position" and calm but wary. Becka asked if the cats were still there, and I simply replied, "Yes, the spamalopes are still with us." That says it all for us.

Do these laws of cat physics make cats make more sense to you? I'm sure some of you can write some great corollaries to some of these laws. I look forward to your comments about cats.

quotation...

"There's no totem pole tall enough for you to sit atop and be above God." - Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Do radioactive cats have 18 half-lives? =^..^=


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13 Comments on “Cat Laws of Physics”

  1. #1 Michael
    on May 27th, 2010 at 8:25 am

    My big thing with cats is that I’m allergic to them. So, even if I was a fan of their behavior and companionship, it wouldn’t make sense for me to own one. I will say that cats tend to know the people in the room that don’t like them and then they gravitate toward them. That happened to me a few months ago at a friend’s house. All these people in the room were making overtures to the cat and the cat ended up in my lap. Not fun but it did cause laughter for us.

  2. #2 b.j.
    on May 27th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    This doesn’t have to do with cats, but is in reference to your electric blanket story. A friend of mine had a similar story. He was cold and kept turning up the heat on his side of the bed. It would get a little warmer, but barely, so he kept turning up the heat throughout the night, until it was on high. His side just kept getting colder instead. Finally, in the middle of the night, his new wife got up, drenched in sweat, worried that she must be really sick and fevered. She was so hot, and turned down the blanket heat, but kept getting hotter and hotter. Anyway, what had happened was the two controls had somehow gotten reversed under the bed. My friend was cooking his wife!

  3. #3 Susan
    on May 27th, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I love cats, but my husband and children? Not so much. It doesn’t help that my stepmom and mother-in-law are both allergic to cats. My dad allowed me to have cats while I was growing up (pre-stepmom), but I’ve only had one cat since I married. We’ve always lived far away from our moms, so my husband finally decided to let me have a cat, since we rarely had visits from either of our mothers. Soon as I got the cat, both moms called and said they were coming to visit! My cat went to stay with friends, I cleaned like a madwoman to get rid of all the cat hair, and the cat came home with fleas. We didn’t keep him long, and there’s been no cat since. I’m hoping I can have a cat when I’m a little old lady and living alone, but I’ll probably have grandchildren who are allergic to cats!

  4. #4 Jonathan
    on May 27th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    The only thing one needs to know to understand cats is that in Ancient Egypt they were worshiped as gods, and they have never forgotten it.

  5. #5 Tess
    on May 27th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Being also from a long line of cat people, these laws were bred into me, so to speak. From an early age, I’ve taken it for granted that cats exist in an alternate universe of their own making–one in which they are the superior beings in relation to everything else. However, I’ve had trouble explaining this to my husband, who comes from dog people. The various cats who have been gracious enough to share their home with us have worked on him, and he’s starting to come around. The cats and I know he will need many years of tedious training, but thankfully, the cats are patient with lesser beings. My cats wanted me to thank you for this list of laws. It’s going to be a wonderful help in educating my husband, who seems to be a little slow in this area, according to the cats.

    Thank you again, and we hope your cats will continue to help you understand the true nature of the universe!

  6. #6 Susan
    on May 27th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Oh, my goodness! I just realized that it appears I don’t love my husband and children so much! English teachers, feel free to use me as an example of unclear writing!

  7. #7 AJ Adams
    on May 27th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I have this allergic reaction when it comes to cats. When they come close, my leg starts kicking. It’s quite strange…

  8. #8 Kristin
    on May 27th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    The rules weren’t news to me, but it was fun to see them spelled out this way. 🙂 I am, unfortunately, a cat lover married to a cat hater. He has very graciously allowed us (myself and our two daughters) to “keep” the stray that adopted us last fall, with the condition that he remains an OUTDOOR cat. I hate not knowing what he’s into sometimes, but at least we’re in a fairly secluded area where he should be mostly safe… Interesting thing, though, our cat seems to think he’s a dog. When my girls are outside playing, the cat invariably follows them wherever they go, jumping and playing with them just like a puppy would. Best of both worlds, perhaps?

  9. #9 Vikki
    on May 28th, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Law of Cat Temperature Reading – the temperature in the room can be gauged by the length of the cat.

    We’ve had a number of cats along the way and I can identify with most of the laws above. Our daughter and my mother-in-law (both living in WI) have a cattery for Siamese cats. They are all raised “under foot” meaning non-caged. My daughter has the most breading females, 4 I believe, and if several have litters around the same time, their house can become very interesting. Cats everywhere! Not a place for one who’s allergic to cats, that’s for sure. But if you like having a cat on your lap, you would definitely be in the right place!

    Siamese are a little unique compared to regular house cats. They are very people oriented and many instinctively play fetch (throw a rolled up sock and they’ll run to get it and bring it back to you over and over again), they are more responsive to coming when called, and they tend to be very affectionate, especially the males. Plus, for what ever reason, Siamese seem to prefer men over women. If anyone’s interested, I can give you their website.

  10. #10 Rob
    on May 30th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    @Michael – You’re right about cats going straight for those who don’t like them. We had a salesman in our home one evening giving us a sales pitch we weren’t particularly enthralled with, but were enduring to be kind. When one of our cats walked it, it was obvious that cats weren’t his fave. The cat made a beeline to him and rubbed continuously against the leg of his black pants. We just let her, in hopes that the presentation might end more quickly. We were right. 😉

    @b.j. – That happened to us one year when it came time to put the electric blanket back on the bed as winter loomed before us. It didn’t get as extreme as the story you related, but we pretty quickly decided that we must have switched wires when we set things up. And that was indeed the case.

    @Susan – The cat allergies thing is all too real. Our daughter Megan grew up with cats and did fine, but since she’s been living in Michigan, she seems to have developed an allergy to them. Usually when she visits us, she has to take allergy meds to keep the symptoms at bay. This time, though, she doesn’t seem to have any problem with them at all. Hmmm. Not to worry about your wording. We all understood your intent. 🙂

    @Jonathan – Boy, that’s for sure. Our little princesses try to rule the roost and love our adoration.

    @Tess – You confirm what all cat lovers have learned or, as you, grew up knowing. Please let us know if this list helps in the training of your budding cat lover. 😀

    @A.J. – There is treatment available for the disorder from which you suffer. Seek it immediately!

    @Kristin – We had a cat who was far more like a dog than he realized, doing the typical things a dog does and enjoys. I’m glad you and your girls can enjoy your cat, even if it’s from afar. Your husband may not realize who much your outside cat is doing for you in keeping some vermin away.

    @Vikki – We’ve never had a Siamese. Maybe after we “plant” these two out back, we’ll have to adopt a Siamese. 🙂

  11. #11 b.j.
    on Jun 2nd, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Just a tag for the Siamese — love them! And, they “talk” to you.

    I wanted to comment on Megan’s allergies. Maybe it will help? I developed a lot of allergies when I moved to NE Ohio, getting asthma so bad I was never really NOT having an asthma attack! Everything bothered me, even cats, which I had grown up with. Since I moved to another state, I have very little allergies, rarely have asthma attacks. I even work in a place where people smoke. Before, I couldn’t be anywhere near smoke, for fear of death! (okay, maybe not that bad, but it felt like it) We now have two indoor cats and a few more outdoor barn cats, as well as a menagerie of other animals. I know from visiting Michigan that the air quality there is very similar to that near Cleveland. I think that is what got me so sick. Could that be affecting Megan? Just thought I’d share with you! Don’t know how to help, though, other than suggesting a move! Which, is often not available.

    Well, hope this helps.

  12. #12 Rob
    on Jun 7th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    @b.j. – Have you ever read any of the books in the Cat Who… series by Lilian Jackson Braun? The two Siamese in those books communicate effectively as they help Qwilleran solve crimes. Thanks for the thoughts for Megan. I told her to be sure to check out your comment. She actually had very few problems with allergies during this visit.

  13. #13 Vikki
    on Jun 7th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Yes, Siamese cats do like to talk. In fact, the Tom they had when they first started up their cattery was named Chit-Chat for that reason, hence the name of their cattery, Chit-Chat-Cats.