Cat jump

How High Can Cats Jump?

Cat owners know that there are no safe places in the house that are safe from the house cat. Even on the highest shelf jumps a cat. The furry noses have incredibly strong leg muscles and can therefore not only climb up furniture and trees, but also develop a strong jumping power.

How high and far cats can jump and whether they always land on their paws, you can find out in our guide!

How high can cats jump?

As highly evolved hunters that inhabit almost every corner of this world, cats have excellent back and leg muscles. This allows them to jump very high – for example, to catch an unwary bird. Even if a cat is rudely awakened, it can jump very far and high in a flash to escape its would-be attacker. It is about five to six times its own height that an ordinary cat can jump high – about two meters.

How high can cats jump from a standing position?

A Youtube video by a cat owner shows just that. On the channel “jamuomii”, a cat jumps up in the air to reach a toy attached to the ceiling. Even up to almost two meters high, the house cat jumps from a standing position to secure the toy mouse.

The amazing jumping power of the cat is not due to more muscles. The cat does not have more muscles than the dog on its hind limbs. Instead, the back and hind leg muscles are more prominent in cats – similar to rabbits and hares that use their hind legs to jump.

In addition, their comparatively low body weight is conducive to jumping strength. Feral cats, in particular, are slender. As a result, the muscles do not have to move much mass when they take off. The combination of well-developed muscles and low body weight provides the sensational jumping power of cats. That’s why it’s difficult to cat-proof your yard. Older apartment cats tend to be overweight, which can affect their jumping ability.

How far can cats jump?

The phrase “just a cat’s jump away” is actually meant to express that something is close by. Yet cats can jump quite far – at least if you compare their jumping distance with their body size.

An ordinary domestic cat can jump a distance of two meters, which is five to six times its body size. Big cats like a puma or a snow leopard even reach 11.7 meters (puma) and 15 meters (snow leopard).

No human being can jump that far. If you take the average height for men (1.80 m) and women (1.66 m) in Germany, the fivefold for men would be 9 m and for women 8.3 m. The current world records for long jumping are well below these values – and are achieved extremely rarely. The current world long jump record for men is 8.95 m and has remained unbroken since 1991. For women, the world record is 7.52 m and has not been beaten even since 1988. Cats jump up to two meters practically every day when romping, playing and hunting.

Do cats always land on their paws?

“Yes and no” – it depends on the height of the fall and the age of the cat.

Cats have an innate turning reflex that ensures they can perform a turning maneuver in free fall and turn from a supine position to land on their paws.

This turning reflex is innate, but takes a few weeks to fully form. Small kittens need about seven weeks before they can land on their paws. This is because the turning reflex is not fully formed until the seventh week of life.

In addition, the height of the fall plays an important role. Sufficient height is necessary for a complete turn. In total, the turning maneuver takes about 0.5 seconds – but in this short time, depending on the drop height, impact can already occur.

At a fall height of more than three meters, the cat has enough time to get into position from the supine position so that it can land on its paws. In doing so, the house cat first turns its front body and then its hind body. The tail stabilizes the body the entire time.

Scientific studies determined that less than two to three meters of fall is often not enough for a complete turn. Accordingly, if a cat falls from a height of less than two or three meters, it is threatening and it can injure itself.

What happens to the cat at very high drop heights?

At greater fall heights of 30 meters, the chances of survival actually seem to increase again. Since the fall takes a long time, the cat has enough time to turn around its own axis. If the animal gets itself into the right position in free fall, it stretches all four legs of itself. This increases the surface area of the body, which increases the air resistance. With greater air resistance, the speed at which the cat approaches the ground decreases. With its paws outstretched, the cat “glides” toward the earth. Upon impact on the paws, the elastic muscles and tendons cushion the kinetic energy, while the stable bones protect the internal organs. Although cats almost always land on their paws, injuries can still occur in serious falls.

Conclusion: How high do cats jump?

Cats are true jumpers and can jump about five to six times their own height, far and high. This means they have significantly more jumping power than the best human long jumpers in the world. The reason for this is that they have enormously developed leg and back muscles and do not weigh much. The muscle and tendon apparatus is also very elastic.

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