How high can cats jump?

Is there anything more majestic than a cat preparing to jump onto something? The way that they position themselves and wiggle before leaping really underlines our feline friends' incredible physical abilities. But just how far can cats jump?

Cats are remarkably good at jumping, but how high can they get?
Cats are remarkably good at jumping, but how high can they get?  © Collage: Unsplash/Sarah Shull/Kanashi

Cats are basically elite when it comes to jumping.

With strong legs and great balance, these fluffy fellows are never far from the top of the fence, and rarely fail a leap, but are they really as good as we all think they are?

In this cat guide, TAG24 will leap into the question of how high cats can jump and just what makes them so good at it.

Starving cat freed after spending five weeks abandoned in a closed restaurant!
Cats Starving cat freed after spending five weeks abandoned in a closed restaurant!

How far can cats jump horizontally, and what's the height can they jump down from without hurting themselves? Let's take a look!

How high can a cat jump?

Your average cat can jump about eight feet in a single bounce, easily reaching the top of most fences, kitchen counters, and shelves. Seeing as most cats are around one foot in height from the base of their paws to their back, this means that they can jump around eight times their height – you've got to admit, that's pretty remarkable!

Why can cats jump so high?

Speaking to Daily Paws, science communications specialist and cat lover Rowyn C. Rose offered an excellent explanation as to why cats are so good at jumping. The primary argument was that cats are remarkably talented at jumping due to unique physical characteristics that make them both very strong, very agile, and very light weight.

This combination means that they have the perfect bodies for launching high into the air, making their target, and keep balance when they land. Your feline friend uses over five hundred muscles when it jumps, pushing itself off the ground with its extremely strong hind legs and many fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Using their whiskers as a guide, their maneuverable and flexible spine as well and thousands of nerve receptors allow them to navigate through the air accurately, always landing on the right spot. When a cat jumps it also stretches out its front paws, using them to both catch on to ledges and other objects, and absorb the shock induced by impact.

It's all about your cat's physical characteristics, the strength of its legs, the accuracy of its movement and its ability to stay balanced even in precarious situations. Different cats will fare differently, but all will be better than us humans.

Cats can fall from a pretty impressive height without getting hurt.
Cats can fall from a pretty impressive height without getting hurt.  © Unsplash/Svklimkin

How high can cats jump down without getting hurt?

Despite the popular belief that cats can fall ridiculous distances and still be okay, cats will only jump down distances that are a maximum of 10–15 feet. Studies have shown that when falling accidentally, however, cats are far more resilient than humans.

We won't go into deep detail here, but in many cases cats can actually fall multiple stories. A 1982 paper published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association identified that cats who fell less than seven stories often had worse injuries than those who fell further.

This was debunked in 2003, though, when a separate study showed that cat injuries got markedly worse after the seventh story. What both studies did identify, though, is that cats are experts at falling and landing in a way that allow them to absorb as much shock as possible and minimize injuries.

Distances that would easily kill a human could be survived by cats, but it wouldn't be a good idea to test it. While they are more likely to emerge unscathed, they are still very likely to be injured after falling from great heights.

How far can cats jump horizontally?

Your cat can jump pretty far, so it's best to be careful.
Your cat can jump pretty far, so it's best to be careful.  © Unsplash/Chandler Cruttenden

As extraordinarily good as they are when jumping vertically, cats are equally talented when they jump a horizontal distance. With those powerful legs and insane sense of direction and balance, your kitty will be able to achieve feats we could never even dream of.

Most cats can generally jump around as far horizontally as they can vertically, so around seven to eight feet a pounce. They can do this very fast, and often use it as an incredibly effective hunting technique.

One thing's for certain: Cats are good at jumping!

When it comes to agility, cats reign supreme.

Nothing compares to the skill of a cat when it comes to the way that they jump. Even if there are other animals capable of far higher leaps and more impressive falls, few are able to do so with the grace of a cat!

Cover photo: Collage: Unsplash/Sarah Shull/Kanashi

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