How High Can Cats Jump?

This guide was written by Joe Francis
Updated: December 4, 2019
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In this guide

It’s a question that even the most experienced of cat owners often wonder about: how high can a cat jump? Cats are lithe and agile animals, and fascinating to watch when they move. To see a cat launch itself from the ground, seemingly effortlessly, and land on its target a few feet above is actually quite delightful to watch, and does make you wonder.

Cats seem to glide once they launch themselves – using those very powerful, specially designed back legs that they have inherited from their Big Cat ancestors – in a very graceful way, but what is the answer? How high can a cat jump?

The answer goes that a healthy adult cat can jump as high as six times its own height. If you have a foot-high cat, an average size for a domestic pet cat, then you can expect it to jump as high as six foot! It’s no surprise, then, that they can find their way easily over those high garden walls!

Preparing to Jump

It’s worth watching a cat prepare to make a jump. A run and then jump up a tree is not so exciting, but take the time to watch your cat – or any other – make a high jump from a stationary position. You’ll see the cat think about the leap it is about to make; it crouches with purpose, and bends its legs back into position.

Sometimes, they take quite a bot of time getting ready – this is not because they are concerned about the jump, but because they are sizing up the energy needed and the distance to be covered. The moment of the jump is pretty special, and your cat will land precisely where it intended to be, having produced a jump of amazing precision.

Why Do Cats Need to Jump?

Originally, cats in the wild lived primarily in trees, and wild jump down and then back up to catch their prey. A large jungle cat – a leopard, perhaps – may have to get a decent sized deer carcass up to its tree nest, and it takes some strength to do that. Indeed, your author once saw his own cat, a domestic of decent size, bring home a rabbit of at least equal weight through a window four feet off the ground!

The domestic cat still has these anatomical designs built in, and also still has its wild instincts that make it a hunter through and through. Even if your cat lives indoors it will jump from one to another item of furniture, not only for fun but as exercise.

It’s recommended that you play with your cat regularly, so that it can exercise and keep its joints in good order – especially in the case of indoor cats – so make sure you set aside some time to entertain your cat, as it will certainly entertain you. Meanwhile, next time you see your cat sizing up a jump, sit back and watch carefully – it really is a quite a wonderful thing to see.

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