I’m Annie Rauwerda, and I started @depthsofwikipedia on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to highlight my favorite Wikipedia rabbit holes. I partnered with Bullish Studios to round up the weirdest Wikipedia articles about a new subject every week. Next up: Cat science!
Has any one species achieved better internet representation than cats? Here are some of my favorite Wikipedia rabbit holes that involve two of my favorite things: cats and science.
... plus CAT TRIVIA!
What is the physics behind cats’ innate ability to orient themselves feet first when falling?
This had never even occurred to me before the Wikipedia article on the Falling Cat Problem entered my life. Though the behavior seems to violate the conservation of angular momentum, cats aren’t rigid bodies — they can change shape.
Don’t drop your cat off a table or anything, but please know that they can be modeled as two cylinders in one big tube, and I think that’s beautiful. Also, props to whoever made this gif.
Cats land feet first and toast seems to always land butter side down. So, what would happen if you put buttered toast on a cat?
There’s a whole Wikipedia page about the Buttered Cat Paradox which explores this humorous question. The answer: cats land feet first.
She orbited 100 miles above Earth and descended safely in a custom parachute. Sadly, she was euthanized after the flight so scientists could study her brain. To honor her memory, a kickstarter campaign put a bronze statue of Félicette at the International Space University in France.
There’s an article dedicated to cat senses on Wikipedia. Some of these peculiar cat senses include the Jacobson's organ, a third eyelid, and a genetic mutation that prevents them from tasting sweetness.
As carnivores, cats losing their taste for sweetness was a neutral mutation — or even a beneficial one — causing them to hunt for nutrition rather than taste.
Congenital deafness most frequently occurs in cats with what color coat?
This image above has been submitted to me countless times, and I’ve been dying to know the story behind it for months.
After digging into the photo’s history, I found Sean McGrath, the original photographer, on Instagram. And he was nice enough to chat with me about the photo.
Annie: Did you really take this photo? And is this your cat?
Sean: I sure did. That’s my old cat Cooper.
Annie: No way! How’d Cooper get in this predicament?
Sean: I had a bunch of boxes that came with packing peanuts, and I had dumped them into a single larger box that she had been playing in.
Annie: The photo made an appearance in my college physics lecture!
Sean: Oh wow. That’s so funny.
Annie: This photo was taken in 2006. Is Cooper still alive?
Sean: No. Sadly, Cooper passed away seven years ago.
Annie: Sorry to hear that. How did she end up on the Electrostatics page? Are you an active editor?
Sean: I had the photo up on Flickr as a Creative Commons license, and I had been picked up on so many various sites of the the years. Icanhascheezburger was the first that ever picked it up, and they even made a t-shirt of it at one point.
Sean: There’s a running joke that 12 years after becoming a professional photographer, this photo is probably my most famous. I got this in the mail recently as a gift from a family member.
Annie: Were you uploading to Flickr a lot at the time?
Sean: Yeah, I was just getting into photography. I shared that photo for solely the comedy aspect.
Annie: What was Cooper like?
Sean: She was so sweet to my wife and me, but she didn’t really like other people very much. But she converted us into cat lovers for life. This is our current nutbar.
Congenital deafness frequently occurs in cats with what color coat? White!
White cats with blue eyes have the highest rates of deafness. According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats: "17 to 20 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are deaf; 40 percent of 'odd-eyed' white cats with one blue eye are deaf; and 65 to 85 percent of blue-eyed white cats are deaf."
Hope all you cool cats enjoyed this edition of the newsletter! As always, feel free to forward this to a friend and send your thoughts/cat pics to [email protected].
Deep dives into Wikipedia rarities, curated by @depthsofwikipedia