How High Can A Cat Jump?

Orange cat walking on air

 

When you see a cat jump to an incredible height, it might make you wonder if the cat is practicing for the Olympics. You might ask yourself, “How high can a cat jump?”

Many factors combine to determine this answer. You can guess that a kitten or an old arthritic cat does not jump as high as a young athletic cat. My Pogo, for example, is an old man cat with arthritis in his bones. He can get on my bed, but that’s about as high as he will go.

Actually, Pogo has never been much of a jumper, for whatever reason. It’s helpful, now, because he

Striped cat in the air
Ballet dancer

and I are growing old together and I’m just as glad not to have to be on patrol to make sure he doesn’t jump on the wrong thing.

You cat’s ability to jump depends on his powerful hind legs which propel him upward. He uses his tail for balance. An adult cat can jump approximately five to six times his height (30 cm.) This means the average cat can jump 150-180 cm.

Sometimes they eye the distance between two surfaces which might be rather far apart. Usually, they know if it is a distance they can reach, though occasionally their calculations are off, and they fall to the ground. More often, though, they are successful.

The longest distance on record of a cat jump goes to a cat named Waffle the Warrior Cat. He jumped 213.36 cm.

calico and white cat jumping across space

 

Numerous factors come into play when measuring a cat’s ability to jump. These include the length of the hind limbs, fat mass related to lean body mass, age, and such conditions as arthritis.

My last cat, Carlos, loved to jump from kitchen counter to refrigerator top to cabinet top, where he could watch everything below him. He had no trouble jumping from one set of cabinets to another, across the kitchen window.

Once I watched him do something quite remarkable. We’d fenced our yard, and put in four gates. The fence was six feet tall. Before the permanent gates were installed, we used make-shift plywood ones. Their heights varied a bit, though they almost reached the fence-top.

Carlos decided he wanted out of the yard. He walked around the whole fenced area, looking up at the tops of the gates. From this inspection, he discovered that the double front gate was the shortest. It only went up about 5 1/2 feet.

After his survey, he came back to the front gate, backed up as far as he could, and made a run for the gate. His jump took him up a good 4 1/2 feet; then he clawed his way up to the top, tipped forward, and jumped off.

He never made that jump again. I think he was just trying to prove he could do it. Of course, not tooCat in mid-air leap long afterward, we put a cat door in the bottom of the fence for him.

Apparently, Carlos’ technique for clearing the fence is the common method. When a cat wants to climb a tree or go over a fence, it is a combination of jumping and climbing. After the initial leap, the cat’s powerful back legs help the cat to get where he wants to go.

The rear claws give him traction and forelimbs and shoulders pull him up to where his front claws can get a better grip. As long as the cat has enough traction, the heights to which he can climb are limitless. Coming down from ‘way up there is a bit harder, though. Have you ever called the fire department to get your cat out of a tree?

 

A cat’s startle reaction can produce some wonderful jumps. I hope you’ve seen a few of the clips of cats jumping up and backwards to get away from an innocent cucumber on the floor. So funny!

 

Orange cat jumping in air to attack toy

One of the funniest startle jumps I ever saw occurred when I had to stay in a motel overnight with my two black Kodiak cats, Uptight Cat and Loose Cat. I opened the room door to bring in a load of belongings, and Loose Cat, who was used to a lot of freedom, escaped.

He ran down the sidewalk in front of the motel units, me close behind. After a long straight walk, the sidewalk made a left turn and then continued. Just around that turn, up against the corner of the building, a big German shepherd lay sleeping in the sun.

Loose Cat got to the turn, and suddenly saw that dog. He shot straight up in the air about four feet. When he returned to the ground, every strand of hair stood on end and he appeared three sizes larger than when he went up.

black & white cat sailing, no ground in sight

 

The dog didn’t wait for Loose Cat to reach the ground — he took off at a dead run across the motel yard. Be the time the cat came back to earth, the dog was far away, still running.

Cats jumping from a high distance can often land safely. That’s because they have a trait known as a righting reflex. If they jump or fall from a great height, this reflex allows them to turn right-side-up in mid-fall, so they can often escape injury. In fact, they are more apt to be injured if they fall a short distance, as there is not enough time for the reflex to right them.

I am including an extra-long URL for an article from Bored Panda. It has such an excellent collection of cat pictures that I wanted to share them with all of you. There are over 50 marvelous pictures. I’m especially fond of #10. Here’s the URL:

boredpanda.com/jumping-cats/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

Here are references I used for this post:

cat-world.com/how-high-can-cats-jump-html

catwisdom101.com/how-high-can-a-cat-jump/

14 thoughts on “How High Can A Cat Jump?”

  1. How wonderful to read through this Fran. cats are so powerful and incredible animals alright and I didn’t realise just how high these animals can jump.
    I know they land on their feet if they fall from a height but I didn’t realise they could jump like that.
    Thanks for another great share my friend

    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Vicki. Writing about cats is great for me because I keep learning new things about them, myself. They are really pretty incredible animals.

      Reply
  2. I love the amazing athleticism of cats! They are just so elegant, fearless, and graceful with their huge leaps and jumps. 

    Their ability to jump so high is always impressive, and it’s also good for owners to know what their cat is capable of so that owners can keep harmful items out of kitty’s reach!

    Reply
    • Oh, yes, their jumping skills can get them in lots of trouble.  I do love to see them in action, so long as their destination is an okay one.  

      It would be interesting to be able to do such a jump, even just once, to see how it feels.  Must be a bit like flying.  They can benefit greatly from such a skill, especially when hunting or in a situation where they need to escape from something.  

      I do love my kitties — it is such fun to watch to see what they will try next.

      Reply
  3. I have personally seen cats jump as high as 5-6 feet and as far as 8-foot horizontal chasing birds and bugs. When motivated like that they always seem to get the job done and the way they twist and turn is amazing. The Orange on you have at the top of the page reminds me of some of those amazing outfield catches, our Major League Baseball Players make when there is no COVID-19 season shutdown. As one cat lover to other thanks for a great post, it was very informative.

    Reply
    • .Oh, you are so welcome.  I love the amazing pictures.  Did you watch the video from boredpanda?  There are some incredible jumping pictures on there.

      This post was such fun to do, because I got to look at all sorts of outstanding pictures and then try to choose the ones I liked best.  Yes, cats are truly amazing creatures;

      Reply
  4. Great article, I especially liked the video. I love watching cat antics in video. Some funny stuff right there.

    I have never really given it any thought on how high a cat can jump, although I have had a few in my day that were excellent jumpers. One of my barn cats used to spend her days jumping in and out of the barn hay loft. She loved hanging out in the high spots in the barn.

    Reply
    • Oh, glad you watched the video.  I was amazed at some of those pictures.  Cats are truly extraordinary creatures.

      Your barn cat had the perfect spot to utilize her jumps.  Cats do love to hang out in the highest spot they can reach.  Then they can watch the world from above.  I used to call my cat “vulture cat” when he got on top of the cabinets to watch us.  

      Reply
  5. Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information here with us. I must say it was really entertaining going through this review as i am a cat lover myself. I never really notice how high a cat can jump i only knew they always land on their feet, maybe one day when i am able to get one i’ll learn more about them

    Reply
    • Yes, it’s really fun having a cat.  I hope you looked at all the pictures, including the ones from boredpanda.com.  They are all pretty incredible.

      To be accurate, cats do not always land on their feet.  To do so, they have to have enough space between them and the ground to right themselves so they will land on their feet.  They are much more apt to land on their feet from a higher place than from one pretty close to the ground. In the latter case, they cannot right themselves.

      Reply
  6. Hello,  thanks for this very detailed and eye opening post,  realky its’s amazing to get to learn more about this incredible pet cat,  it’s so much fun for me to read about cats and really the more I read  the more I want to read because I get to learn new things about how apecial cats are,  my cat likes jumping but realky on short distance but I’m relly amazed to know that cats can jump 5 times their height,  at they preparing for olympics LoL.

    Reply
    • Oh, good, you have a cat.  You will appreciate the cat articles much more if you have a cat in your family.  They really are incredible athletes, usually.  My present cat has never been much of a jumper, but the last one certainly was.  I love watching them sail through the air.  They are indeed amazing.

      Reply
  7. Hey nice article you have there. Such an amazing training you got your cat to undergo. Well, I must say I didn’t thought of engaging my cat in such an amazing lessons, Nevertheless after going through this article and the excitement of the cat in the in the picture during jumping. I am compelled to have my cats undergo some training. With this training I am convinced that my cat will be more lively and tends to live longer.

    Reply
    • Cats can jump incredible heights and distances, but they are not trained to do that.  It’s a skill they have naturally.  If the cat wants to get somewhere and believes he can make the jump, he will do it.  

      My cats have never had training to teach them how to jump.  They do it by instinct.

      Reply

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