Why do they say cats have 9 lives?

Whether you're a cat owner or not, you've probably heard one of the most well-known expressions - that a cat has nine lives! As exciting and interesting as it sounds, we probably all understand that it probably doesn't have 9 lives. But then why do you say it has 9 lives when it actually doesn't

Origin of the proverb

That a cat has nine lives is today a well-known saying. Exactly how it came about or its origin is not really clear. Some say it's an old British proverb, but there are also theories that take us way back in time. Cats were revered and worshiped all the way back to ancient Egypt, where according to a myth it is said that the sun god Ra who took the form of a cat - "The Great Tomcat" or "Mau" during his visit to the underworld where he created eight other gods - which represents nine lives in one.

The number 9 also has a mythical meaning among several cultures within both Christianity and Hinduism. The number nine symbolizes divine completeness; in Chinese culture, nine is a lucky number; in Norse mythology, the universe is divided into nine worlds; and in Greek mythology there are nine Muses.

Why do they say that cats have 9 lives?

To say that cats have nine lives when they don't is quite straightforward. It is a concept that has become a proverb based on the cat's unique characteristics. A cat is not immune to dying or surviving being run over by a truck, but has many characteristics that have led to the coining of this term.

Cats are incredibly fast

Cats can elongate their spines by alternately extending and bending their backs, allowing for extra-long strides that enable them to run 32-48 km/h for short distances

Cats are incredibly flexible

Cats have an incredibly elastic spine with 53 vertebrae (whereas humans typically have 33). This allows them to rotate their bodies through angles of as much as 180 degrees and contributes to their incredible righting reflex – or their ability to land on their feet almost every time.

Cats are extremely resilient

Cats' resilient and muscular legs help them absorb the shock of a hard landing. They can also jump as much as nine times their height from a standing position.

Cats are malleable

Cats also have small clavicles, which allow them to flatten their bodies and squeeze through impossibly tight spaces.


So do cats have nine lives? Unfortunately not. But the fact remains that cats are incredibly adept at avoiding trouble. With this in mind, we can make every day count by nurturing and caring for our furry family members.