As any cat owner knows, cats are fantastic jumpers. How many times has your cat jumped onto dressers, cupboards, and shelves that you can’t reach? How many times have you seen it leap onto counters, then countertops, then just looking down at you with that warrior cat look in its eyes? How many times did you have to use a chair to be able to reach your cat and get it down? It’s no secret that cats love heights, but how high can cats jump anyway? And how many times has your cat displayed an impossible high jump from the countertop right onto the table, just to show off its amazing jumping abilities?
The internet is filled with cat jump stunts and we are in awe of their fantastic skills, but how do cats do it? How can an animal that small jump so high without any help? The short answer is that it's in their nature. It's all anatomy when it comes to a cat's jumping skills. If you want to find out the long version of the answer, then take a look:
No really, how high can cats jump?
If the live-action stunts in your house or the millions of videos on the internet are not enough to get your attention on this matter, then let’s break cat jumps into numbers, just to put things into perspective.
The average height for cats is about 9-10 inches (22.8-25.4 cm) and their average length is 18 inches (45.2 cm) including head and body. Adding the normal length of a cat’s tail, that’s 30 inches (76.2 cm) in total, from the tips of their heads to the tips of their tails.
Typically, cats can jump from 7.5 (229 cm) feet to an unbelievable 9 feet (274.3 cm). That is from 7 to 9 times their body length in total, which is absolutely fantastic. Please note that this is how high the average house cat gets. Larger cats can jump even higher than that, reaching a whopping 10-11 feet (305 -335 cm).
How are cats able to jump that high?
The answer to this one is their anatomy and physiology. Cats are built to be fantastic jumpers.
They have low body weight, powerful muscles, and most, importantly, strong bones. They have amazing strength in their hind legs and they use that to propel themselves into the air, reaching these unbelievable heights.
At first, they take the jumping position by crouching all their four limbs on the floor. Then they lift up their front paws, stretching their torsos upwards, and, for the final move, they push hard on their hind legs to propel themselves upward. Their tails have an important role in helping cats keep their balance.
Why can cats jump so high?
Cats get these impressive jumping skills from their wild feline ancestors that survived on hunting. Felines need to be able to jump to be successful hunters, but also to fight off other predators, and it seems that cats have held on to this fantastic feature. Even though household cats don’t need to hunt, they still have hunting instincts and hunting abilities. So the next time you see your cat leaping from the kitchen counter, take a good look at its powerful back legs and how they propel it forward. It will look a bit like National Geographic.
Will cats jump off balconies or tall buildings?
While there have been countless accidents involving cats falling from balconies, windows, or other high places, cats do have a good sense of preservation. If they get a good sense of their surroundings, that is. In fact, this is usually the biggest problem. Cats are great jumpers, but they might not realize how high they are just by looking out the window.
Another important issue is getting distracted. Most accidents happen when cats jump to catch birds, balls, or other things. They sprint away to catch their prey, and off they go. This is why you shouldn’t leave things up to fate. You can cat-proof your balcony and windows to make sure that there are no accidents. A catio for your balcony will keep your cat safe and it will save you a lot of stress.
Which cats jump the highest?
The longer the cat, the longer and more powerful are the cat's back legs, so the better the cat's ability to jump is. Larger cat breeds like Ragdolls and Norwegian Forest Cats are excellent jumpers, so if you are planning to live with one, you are in for quite a few surprises.
But it's not only body length that counts in this equation. It's also muscle strength, agility, and aerodynamic build.
Other amazing jumpers are the Egyptian Mau, which is also the fastest domestic cat, the Abyssian, which has extremely strong hind legs and is an excellent candidate for cat agility training, and the Somali, which is the long-haired version of the Abyssian. The Bengal is also an excellent jumper, with its strong legs, slim physique, and immense energy. The Savannah is bread from a serval and a domestic cat, which gives it it's high-level feline jumping skills. Combined with its impressive body length, it can reach unbelievable heights.
Manx cats are also excellent jumpers, in spite of not having tails. A cat's tail plays an important role in balance, but Manx cats seem to have been able to develop stellar jumping skills even without it. Siamese cats are very athletic, extremely curious, and impressively smart. They are wonderful jumpers and perfect for cat agility training.
Can cats jump higher than dogs?
Yes, they certainly can. While dogs and cats share a lot of physical features, they are built very differently. Cats have much lower body weight and a very different bone and muscle structure, which makes them far better suited for jumping than dogs. The current world record for the highest jump performed by a dog stands at 6.2 feet and it is held by Feather, the greyhound. While that is a very impressive jump, cats can simply do it better.
How far could humans jump if they had cat jumping skills?
According to Guinness, the current record for the highest standing jump performed by a male stands at 5.5 feet. This was achieved by American Brett Williams from Texas on September 2nd, 2019. Humans can barely jump their own height, while cats can jump up to 9 times their body length. If humans could as high as cats, they would exceed the 50 feet threshold. As you can see, cats are fantastic jumpers. It's easy to understand why there are so many videos of cats jumping to high places. It never ceases to be fantastic to watch! What about your cat? Does it jump onto your furniture? What is the tallest place it has jumped to? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.