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How High Can a Cat Jump?

Kathryn Copeland

Our cats are amazingly athletic! They can run at high speeds and jump to what seems like impossible heights! You’ve probably watched your own cat jump onto a high shelf or on top of the fridge and wondered, how high can cats jump?

Cats can jump a distance that is up to six times their own height! Here, we go into more detail about how high this works out to be, and we look at what makes cats such great jumpers. We can never learn too much about our amazing feline companions!

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How High Can Cats Seriously Jump?

So, cats are known to jump about six times their height. Let’s see how this works out.

A cat’s height is always measured from the top of their shoulder to the floor. The average cat is about 9 to 10 inches in height, though there are much smaller and larger cats. This means an average-sized cat of about 10 inches in height can jump about 5 feet!

Of course, other factors need to be considered for how high a cat can jump. Things like age, health, breed, agility, and weight will also determine the height of a cat’s jump.

cats playing on the ground
Image Credit: Piqsels

Age

Cats that are in their prime, which is generally about ages 2 to 4, will usually get the greatest height. Kittens and senior cats can jump too, but not nearly as high.

Health

Cats that aren’t in good health will not be able to jump that high. Cats with arthritis or any other mobility issues will have trouble jumping at all, and of course, if they are injured, jumping should be discouraged.

If your cat is a good jumper and suddenly starts to have trouble with jumping, you should take your cat to the vet.

Breed

The height of the average cat provides us with an idea of how high they can jump. But this is just the average. The tallest cats are Savannahs and Maine Coons, and they can probably jump about 8 feet or even higher!

The shortest cats, like the Munchkin, might be able to jump 3 feet, but given how short their legs are, it’s probably less.

blue tabby maine coon cat
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Agility

Agility ties in with breed to a certain degree. The more agile the cat is, the better their jump will be. Some cats are also long, which can add to the height of the jump achieved.

Weight

The opposite of agility is weight. The heavier the cat, the harder it will be for them to jump, especially high jumps. Some cats are heavy because of their breed, and others have just packed on a few too many pounds.

Why Are Cats Such Great Jumpers?

The cat’s body is literally built for running and jumping. They are athletic and agile animals that need this agility for their very survival.

It’s almost all in their strong leg muscles. Cats have exceptionally strong and muscular hind legs, which are instrumental in propelling them to run faster and jump higher.

cat jumping
Image Credit: Piqsels

Cats also have flexible spines that are capable of compressing, which enables the cat to leap and contort their bodies in midair. This is also what enables them to always land on their feet.

Cats can also use their claws to pull themselves up onto a surface once they’ve made that giant leap, and they use their tails for balance.

Is There a Record for the Highest Jump by a Cat?

No, but there is a record for the longest (horizontal) jump. The World Book of Records gave this honor to Waffle the Warrior Cat, a Tuxedo cat from the U.S. that jumped 7 feet (84 inches)!

To put things in perspective, the record for the highest jump by a person was set in February 2021 by Christopher Spell of the U.S. He did a standing jump of 5 feet, 7 inches, and he is 5 feet, 9 inches. This means he almost jumped his entire height.

Compare the average cat to this: They can jump six times their height and can easily jump the same height as Christopher did. For Christopher to compete with a cat, he would have to jump 34.5 feet from a standing position!

We already know that cats are amazing creatures, but that is impressive stuff!

How Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?

tabby cat jumping
Image Credit: Piqsels

The amazing ability for cats to land on their feet is appropriately called the righting reflex. It enables the cat to figure out which way is up and which way is down while in midair, so they can maneuver themselves into the correct position in order to land on their feet.

This feat is accomplished through their eyesight and the balance system found in their inner ears, which is what gives them their incredible balance. They also have flexible backbones that enable them to swivel while in the air.

However, cats need over 1 foot (12 inches) of space in order to land on their feet; otherwise, they don’t have enough time to orient and maneuver themselves while falling.

Related Read: 18 Biggest Cat Myths and Misconceptions

What If Cats Are Jumping on Places That They Shouldn’t?

If your cat is consistently jumping on surfaces that you would prefer to remain cat-free, there are a few tricks that you can use.

cat jumping over garden fence
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Double-Sided Tape

You can place double-sided tape on the surface that you want to keep your cat from jumping on. Cats dislike sticky things on their paws and will end up avoiding this area after a few tries.

Scents

If you use a citrus-based scent in this area, your cat might not want to go near it. Most cats are repelled by the scent of citrus. You should be careful, however, if you plan to use essential oils, as they are quite toxic for cats.

You can also use commercial products that are designed to keep pets away from objects and areas but are safe for cats.

citrus fruit
Image Credit: Obodai26, Pixabay

Aluminum Foil

You can lay aluminum foil on the surface that your cat is always jumping on. Cats don’t like how the foil sounds or how it feels on their feet.

Make It Inaccessible

If the area has large and heavy items blocking the way, your cat won’t be able to get to it. Just remember that cats are good at knocking things over, though, so be sure the items are too heavy to be pushed over by a cat.

Cat Tree

funny cats playing on tree
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Cats naturally love going to high places, and if you don’t have anything high for your cat, this might be why the top of your fridge, for example, might be so attractive to your cat.

If you provide your cat with a sturdy and high cat tree or even a few cat shelves, the attraction to this forbidden space might stop.

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Conclusion

You already knew that cats were great jumpers, but now you know just how fantastic they actually are! These flexible, energetic, and athletic creatures can jump an average of 5 feet, and when you consider how small domestic cats are, this is a truly impressive feat!

When cats start jumping on things that they shouldn’t, there are steps that you can take to stop it. However, as long as your cat has access to high places that are safe and you’re okay with your cat being there, you’ll have a happy and secure cat.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.