How High Can Cats Jump?

If you have a pet cat, you may have noticed that cats love to be up high. Heights provide cats with an optimal vantage point and can make them feel safe from other animals or people in the house. Whether it’s a cat tree or furniture, cats will take advantage of vertical space.

Cats have a flexible musculoskeletal system that allows them to jump high while remaining coordinated and balanced. Strong back leg and back muscles, a flexible spine, and a long tail for balance all work together to help your cat jump, Watch a cat nimbly jump on to a ledge without wobbling and you will see evidence of this system at work.

A barn cat looks down from a ledge.
Cats like to be up high where they can keep an eye out on everything.

Standing Jump

Cats can jump from a sitting position or from a running position. Cats that jumping from a running position will be able to jump higher than from a sitting position. The average cat can jump 5-6 times their length depending on their body strength.

For a larger cat, this means a cat can jump over 8 feet. An average sized cat can jump around five feet from a vertical position (without running).

Twenty-four consecutive images of a cat running. Photos: Eadweard Muybridge, 1887.
This series of 24 photographs shows the powerful backlog and flexible spine of a cat in motion. Photos: Eadweard Muybridge, 1887, Library of Congress.

What is the World Record for a Cat’s Jump?

The longest horizontal length that a cat has been recording as jumping was set by Waffle the Warrior Cat, a gray tabby. Waffle set the Guinness world record for the longest cat jump by leaping213.36 centimeters (7 feet) on January 30, 2018 at Big Sur in California

Do All Cats Jump?

All cats, unless elderly or otherwise at less than optimal health, can jump. That said, not all cats are prone to jumping. I have a fenced in cat patio and two of my cats are perfectly happy lounging around in the sun and have never tried to jump the walls. My third cat, is constantly testing the cat proofing on our six-foot high walls to try and find a way out.

Make Jumping Indoors Safe for Your Cat

If you have a cat that loves to jump, be sure to make your cat’s indoor space safe and engaging. Secure items like vases and photo frames that sit on top of mantles, tables, and other furniture. Otherwise your leaping cat make knock them off and break them.

Cat sitting on a bookshelf
If your cat can jump to it, she will find a way to sit up on top of your furniture.

If you have any wobbly furniture, make sure to anchor it to the way so it doesn’t topple over.

You can help satisfy your cat’s need to be up high by providing him or her with a cat tree. Having a high space to be is important, especially if you have other pets or small children in the house. Cats need a safe space to retreat to that’s up and out of the way.

Can a Cat Jump a Fence?

If you provide an enclosed outdoor space for your cat, make sure there aren’t any access points that your cat can jump to. A cat can easily jump a six foot fence. If you have a large cat, an eight foot fence could also be jumped.

Trees also are easily climbed by cats. Cats have sharp claws that also help them climb even higher than they can jump.

References

Harris, M. A., & Steudel, K. (2002). The relationship between maximum jumping performance and hind limb morphology/physiology in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus). Journal of Experimental Biology205(24), 3877-3889. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.205.24.3877

Zajac, F. E., Zomlefer, M. R., & Levine, W. S. (1981). Hindlimb muscular activity, kinetics and kinematics of cats jumping to their maximum achievable heights. Journal of Experimental Biology91(1), 73-86. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.91.1.73

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