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How High Can Cats Jump

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Healthy adult cats can jump up to five to six times their height, which can be between 150 to 180 cm in a single jump.
  • Cats’ ability to jump so high is due to their physical attributes such as their 500 muscles and flexibility.
  • Kittens can’t jump as high as adult cats because their bodies are fragile and are still developing.
  • Cats can land on their feet even from high surfaces due to their extra vertebrae, balance system, and body structure.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Published on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
How High Can Cats Jump
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Cats can reach incredible heights in just a split second. Cat parents can attest to how they can shift from a lazy lying position to a soaring lunge in a blink of an eye. Our feline friends truly excel in the athletic department and they show it off through their jumps. But, how high can cats jump? Read further as we discuss the answer.

How High Can Cats Jump on Average?

In general, a healthy adult cat can jump up to five to six times its height. An average cat’s height can range between 23 to 25 cm. Although depending on the breed, some cats can grow up to 17 inches tall like the Savannah cat. On the other hand, the shortest breed, the Munchkin, can grow up to five to seven inches tall only. 

On average, cats can leap between 150 to 180 cm in a single jump. But others are extra competitive and can even jump up to 240 cm, that’s 8 feet! However, many factors can affect how high cats can jump. This includes breed, age, and overall health. Cats that jump really high include the Abyssinian, Savannah, Siberian, and Oriental shorthair breeds. The Munchkin breed might be the last on the list due to their stout physique.

Aside from the breed, age also affects how high a cat can jump. Elderly cats may not be as strong and agile as they were in their younger years. They may also have underlying illnesses due to their age. According to a study in 2011, cats more than 11 years old start having mobility issues. So, you won’t be able to expect them to jump really high. The same applies to kittens whose bodies are still developing. Even for an average adult cat, the height at which it can jump may still vary due to its overall health. 

Whether a cat is running, stationary, or jumping vertically, or horizontally can make a difference in how high its jump is. But in the end, the average height of their leap is still impressively high. So, be careful where you store those kitty treats. The next thing you know, your feline companion is already having a buffet. 

Why Do Cats Jump So High? 

A cat’s ability to jump so high is ingrained in its DNA.  The roots of today’s domestic cats can be traced back to their tree-dwelling wildcat ancestry. So, there’s no surprise why your kitty can quickly get on top of your fridge. Our domestic cats nowadays have retained many anatomical abilities that helped the wildcats survive. They were agile enough to jump for safety from predators, or pursue their prey. 

But, how can cats jump so high? Their physical attributes help them propel their bodies to astonishing heights. First, cats boast a total of 500 muscles in their body. When they jump, all of these muscles work together. Their strong hind legs are longer and angled. This makes sudden movements possible, and also supports safe landings. 

The flexibility of cats is also unparalleled. Out of their 200 bones, 30 are located in the spine and 23 in the tail. This helps them adjust their position mid-air for better landings. This ability is also called the aerial righting reflex. Their tails also help them maintain balance. Additionally, their front legs and claws prepare for the landing right after the leap from their back legs. The front legs stabilize while the claws grab the surface where they’ll land. Even their paws and whiskers play important roles when they jump. 

The nerve receptors on their paw cushions improve their balance. Plus, they use them to evaluate the surface where they’ll land. Even their whiskers also help them manage their position in relation to the ground. It also makes them sense vibrations in the air to prevent hitting nearby surfaces. 

How to Make Sure That Your Cat Jumps Safely

Along with the ability to jump high are the dangers of landing in unsafe areas. Although we commonly hear the notion that cats have nine lives, this obviously isn’t true. So, keeping them safe is vital, especially after knowing how far cats can jump. Most of the counters and furniture at home may be accessible to your cat. But they aren’t always safe to land on. 

For example, if your cat lands on a stove or other heated appliances, it may get burned. So, you’ll need to train your cat not to go to these dangerous areas in the house. You can try training options such as positive reinforcement or clicker training on your cat. It may be challenging in the beginning, but is surely worth it when you reach success. Never restrict your kitty from jumping. This ability is natural to cats. Redirect them or provide a safer area instead where they can freely jump. 

If you have more than one cat at home, consider their age and overall health differences. Elderly cats have decreased mobility and may need assistance to get to certain heights. Provide them with some pet stairs to support them as they climb up or descend from elevated areas. To prevent your kitties from jumping on kitchen counters or other off-limit areas, you can also try making cat patios. These window catios provide your kitties access outside minus your worries of them getting lost. 

Can Kittens Jump As High As Adult Cats? 

Kittens can’t jump as high as adult cats. Their bodies are fragile and are still developing. Their balance, stability, and spatial judgment aren’t as reliable yet as adult cats. Because of this, kittens need extra care. Kittens aren’t aware that they aren’t ready yet. So, they might still jump even from elevated surfaces. Thus, you need to keep an eye on them. 

Kittens who jump from high areas are at risk of hurting themselves. Although, this rarely happens as they are still afraid of heights. However, if they are being chased by a dog, or they see a bird or even food, they may jump high. Without fully developed stability and balance, your kitten may get injuries when they fall from your counter. They may not be able to land perfectly on their feet yet. 

However, it is also not good to fully restrict your kitten from jumping. Your kitten needs to practice to be able to do the stunts well in due time. To help your kitten develop the necessary skills without jeopardizing its health, you can provide a safe kitty condo. You can also opt for an indoor cat tree that is apt for your kitten’s size.  

Why Do Cats Land On Their Feet When They Jump?

Behind your cat’s graceful landing is a complicated science. Even from high surfaces, your kitty makes landing look so effortless. On the contrary, there is actually a lot of effort put into it to make it work. Blame it on your feline friend’s extra vertebrae. They can twist their bodies in a millisecond to adjust for a proper landing. Their lack of collarbones also helps them twist so quickly too. 

Plus, their flexibility and sense of balance are like no other. A balance system found in their inner ear called vestibular apparatus helps them differentiate up from down. The same feature helps their upper body rotate to face down along with the lower body for a good landing. Even if cats fall from the wrong position, they are still able to land on their feet. This is a biologically-driven ability called the Falling Cat Phenomenon

Cats’ light bone structure, small bodies, and thick fur also contribute to that smooth landing. These features reduce terminal velocity allowing a lighter landing and softer impact. In fact, one study revealed that cats are likely to extend their limbs horizontally to achieve a more even fall. This creates more air resistance similar to how a parachute works. 

How High Can Cats Jump: FAQs 

Now you have some insights as to how high can cats jump. Let’s take a look at the frequently asked questions and their answers regarding this topic. 

How high is too high for a cat to jump?

Anything over 6 feet is too high for a cat to jump. Although the Guinness World Record for the highest cat jump is 7 feet, this isn’t always the case for an average cat. For safety reasons, never allow your cat to jump from a height of more than 6 feet. 

How high can a cat jump from without getting hurt?

The safe height for a cat’s jump depends on many factors like breed, age, and health. But on average, a cat can jump up to 6 feet without getting hurt. Other cats may fall safely from 8 feet but it may not apply to all cats. 

Can a cat survive a 2 story fall?

Cats are known to land on their feet after falling from astonishing heights. In fact, there was a cat in New York city that survived a 32-story fall. But, this isn’t always the case for all cats. Falling from a 2-story building may cause injuries or even be fatal for a cat. 

Do cats hurt their feet when they jump?

Cats are less likely to hurt their feet when they jump. That is because their paws have cushions and their muscles are strong enough for jumping high heights. They also fall at a slower speed compared to humans because they have a lower downward pull of gravity. 

Will cats jump off a balcony?

Yes, cats can jump off a balcony especially when they see birds or other possible prey. They can get fixated on their prey and pursue them even from a balcony. 

Cats are one of the most agile animals on earth. They have extraordinary skills and physical attributes that allow them to catapult to high places as fast as you can imagine. But, as a cat parent, you are still responsible for giving them a safe space where they can exercise their natural agility. 

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