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At a glance
One of the marvels of sharing a home with a domestic cat is their sheer athleticism. They are swift, elegant, graceful, all of which are traits which help the cat to silently stalk their prey and escape predators.
A cat’s ability to jump comes down to powerful 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?
An 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). Which 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).
Note: The height of all quadrupeds (animals who stand on four feet) are measured from the ground to the shoulders (withers).
One study which evaluated thigh muscle activity during maximum-height jumps reports cats were able to touch a cotton ball suspended as high as 1.6 metres. 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
Numerous factors can affect a cat’s ability to jump which includes the length of the hind limbs, fat mass relative to lean body mass, 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.
How far can a cat jump?
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 world on wobbly feet from three weeks, but it will be some while before he 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. By the time the cat reaches six months, his ability to jump will improve, but it can still take several more months before the kitten can jump as efficiently as a healthy adult cat.
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?
Every morning, my Tonkinese boy Norman jumps up onto the bookcase, he launches himself from the sideboard and leaps 3 feet to the top of the bookcase. This is a popular spot for all the cats because it is high, and it is in a location which gives the cats a view of the kitchen, dining room, living room, and two external doors. The cats may be domesticated and have no fear of humans; it is still in a cat’s innate nature to look for elevated positions where they can survey their environment.
Cats who can go outside also jump and climb when chasing and hunting birds.
To run to safety from a predator or a person who scares them.
Did you know?
As a cat ages, their ability to jump can decline due to arthritis.