How High Can A Domestic Cat Jump?

Key facts

  • How high can a cat jump? An adult cat can jump approximately five to six times its height (30 cm), so the
    average cat can jump 150 – 180 cm
  • How far can a cat jump? The longest recorded cat jump belongs to Waffle the Warrior Cat who jumped 213.36 cm
  • A cat’s ability to jump comes down to its hind legs which propel the cat up in the air as well as the tail which they use for balance.

How high can a cat jump?

Cat height

The average-sized adult cat can jump 5-6 times their height, which is measured from the ground to their shoulders. The average height of an adult cat is 30 cm (12 inches). This means that a healthy adult cat can jump between 150 cm (4.9 feet or 59 inches) and 180 cm (5.9 feet or 70.8 inches). In human terms, that would be the equivalent of a 5 foot 6 (167 cm) person jumping approximately 918 cm or 3 stories.

Note: The height of all quadrupeds (animals who stand on four feet) are measured from the ground to the shoulders (withers).

Cat jumping

What is the Highest Cat Jump?

What is the highest cat jump?

There’s not an official highest recorded jump among felines, however, one study evaluating thigh muscle activity during maximum-height jumps reports cats were able to touch a cotton ball suspended as high as 1.6 meters. The video clip below shows one extraordinary cat jumping 201 cm (6 feet 7 inches) which is 79 inches and approximately 7.9 times higher than the average cat.

Credit Jamuomii, YouTube

In the wild, mountain lions (also known as puma or cougar) are known to be one of the highest feline jumpers. The mountain lion stands at 61 – 89 cm (2 – 3 feet) in height and can jump as high as 18 feet from the ground.

Why can cats jump so high?

In the wild, cats are both predators and prey. This makes cat mesopredators and puts them in a unique position in the middle of the food chain. This means they need to be ready to pounce, run, and leap at a moment’s notice for the next meal—or to avoid being another animal’s next meal.

How do cats jump so high?

Numerous factors can affect a cat’s ability to jump which include the length of the hind limbs, fat mass relative to lean body mass (more muscles and less fat), age (a young kitten or senior cat with arthritis will not be able to jump as high) and underlying medical conditions which may affect mobility or energy levels.

To achieve their amazingly high jumps, a cat is built with extraordinarily strong thighs for their size. Other reasons a cat can jump so high might include their ability to turn their bodies 180 degrees (compared to 90 degrees in a human), their loose should blades (attached by muscle and not bone), and their greater number of bones (260 compared to 206 in humans). Lastly, a cat’s hind legs are longer than the front limbs, absorbing more force and giving them more power for leaping and running.

Janet Cutler, PhD, our Certified Cat Behaviorist, explains: “Cats jump by first crouching deeply, lifting off with the front legs, and then a very quick and powerful extension of their hind legs and back.”

How far can a cat jump?

The Guinness World Record for the longest horizontal jump is 213.36 cm or 7 feet which is held by Waffle the Warrior Cat.

Bear in mind, that cats can climb to extraordinary heights. This is different from a jump through the air, without making contact with a vertical surface. We have a Houdini cat who can run out of the back door, leap up at the wooden fence and scale the tree within seconds. The initial leap is approximately 5 feet, from there, she latches onto the tree and uses her claws and limbs to climb it.

How high can kittens jump?

The kitten slowly starts to explore his or her world on wobbly feet by the third week of life, but it will be some while before he or she can jump. Most kittens will climb up short objects such as the sofa. As coordination and muscle strength improve, so will the kitten’s ability to climb and jump. Janet Cutler, PhD, explains “It’s generally accepted that kittens have fully developed coordination and agility by 8 weeks.

Since they are still developing muscle and growing, their jumping should continue to improve until they are fully grown”. By the time the cat reaches six months, his ability to jump will continue to improve, but it can still take several more months before the kitten reaches his or her full jumping potential.

When do kittens start jumping?

At three weeks old, kittens will begin to wobbly walk around. In just a week she will feel confident with walking and begin to wrestle with her siblings. At six weeks old, kittens will begin to jump for the first time.

How high can a cat climb?

When a cat scales a tree or fence, it is a combination of jumping and climbing. The initial leap, followed by scrambling up the object using their powerful back legs and assisted with the rear claws for traction and forelimbs and shoulders to pull themselves up and the front claws for grip. You can see how cats attempt to scale a fence in this video, which shows all but one cat using a combination of jumping and climbing. As long as the cat has enough traction, there is no limit to how high one can climb. Unfortunately, cats aren’t quite as skilled when it comes to descending.

Why do cats jump and climb?

Cats like to position themselves in elevated positions where they can survey their environment and stay out of the way of potential dangers. This highlights the importance of providing cats with perches and cat trees to enable them to jump, climb and watch the world from a height.

Cats who can go outside also jump and climb when chasing and hunting birds.

African wildcats, the genetic predecessor to our domestic cats, sleep up in safe, elevated areas, as seen on the picture below.

african wildcat jump on tree
African Wildcat (DepositPhotos)

Our cats often still have that instinct and will seek out higher places where they feel safe and can survey for prey or predators. Providing outlets for this behavior, such as perches, shelves, or cat trees will allow them to express this behavior and make it less likely that they’ll jump and climb areas you don’t want them to.

Cats that are new to your home may also try to jump up to find a hiding spot or vantage where they feel safe. Making sure that you have a new cat in an area where you can give them safe hiding spots is important.

cat hiding in a bag
Cats need hiding spots (DepositPhotos)

How high can a house cat jump?

An average adult domestic cat can jump about 150 – 180 cm (4 – 5 feet) high. That’s five to six times its body length! If your housecat has access to surfaces within four to five feet from the ground or another surface, they may try to jump there.

Can my cat jump the fence? How high should my fence be?

Yes, your cat could jump a fence if not properly cat proofed. The domestic cat is known to jump just over five feet high. To build a cat-proof fence, 6 – 6.5 feet is the recommended height. Remember, cats can jump a length of about seven feet, so keeping the fence clear of any nearby jumping points is a must. Some cat parents also install angled netting at the top of their fences to cat-proof their yards.

Did you know?

As cats age, their ability to jump can decline due to arthritis.

Jumping cat safety FAQS

Will a cat jump off a balcony?

Cats are naturally drawn to high places and have no fear of heights. They’re not known to purposely jump from high places like a balcony but could lose their balance attempting to jump to the next perch, when startled, or when distracted by a passing bird or squirrel. This phenomenon is called high-rise syndrome.

How far can a cat fall without getting injured?

The surface your cat lands on will determine the extent of her injuries. Cats can fall from a few feet and are use the righting reflex to land on their feet. From greater heights, cats use the righting reflex in addition to splaying their limbs (like a flying squirrel) to slow the velocity of their fall. While cats have an uncanny ability to land high falls, this doesn’t mean they do so without injury.

Do cats know not to jump out of windows?

Cats don’t tend to jump from high places to the ground, but they don’t experience fear of high places. Your cat is more likely to lose her balance or jump from the window to get to another perch than to jump from a high window to the ground. If the window is relatively close to the ground (within six feet), your cat might jump.

Can cats survive high falls?

Yes, cats have been documented to survive falls as high as 32 stories with only a chipped tooth and collapsed lung. Not all cats can survive a high fall or land a high fall on their feet.

Do cats get ground shock?

Yes, cats can experience ground shock. Landing on a soft surface like a carpet can lessen the shock absorbed by the joints. Cats falling from greater heights are less likely to experience ground shock than a cat falling from just a few feet up. This is because a fall from greater heights gives a cat more time to initiate the righting reflex and splay their limbs to slow their velocity.

Do cats always land on their feet?

Cats have an uncanny ability to land on their feet thanks to the righting reflex. The righting reflex is the body’s ability to right itself in orientation. Using their inner ear, cats can sense when they are falling and will twist their super flexible bodies to land feet first. Kittens begin developing the righting reflex around three weeks of age and have mastered the ability to land on their feet by seven weeks of age. However, especially during short falls that don’t provide time for the righting reflex, cats don’t always land on their feet and could land on their side or their heads.

Authors

  • Janet Cutler, PhD, Cat Behaviorist

    Janet Higginson Cutler, PhD, CAAB, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. She earned her Phd at the University of Guelph, and runs her own cat and dog behavior consulting firm, Landmark Behaviour, in Canada.

  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio