A diagram from the 1969 study, A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon, by Kane and Scher of Stanford University. Apparently one of the very few scientific papers on cat physics.
Kane and Scher neither lifted nor dropped a single cat. Instead, they created a mathematical abstraction of a cat: two imaginary cylinder-like chunks, joined at a single point so the parts could (as with a feline spine) bend, but not twist. When they used a computer to plot the theoretical bendings of this theoretical falling chunky-cat, the motions resembled what they saw in old photographs of an actual falling cat. They conclude that their theory “explains the phenomenon under consideration”.