Cats are athletic creatures that are capable of phenomenal things. But how far do these talents extend? Just how high can cats jump vertically?
The average house cat can jump about 5′ (1.5m) high. Breeds with smaller legs like the Munchkin cat won’t jump as high, while larger breeds like the Savannah cat can reach even more impressive heights.
Read on to learn more about cats’ impressive jumping abilities, including when it is dangerous for them and how you can stop a cat from jumping on things.
How High Can the Average Cat Jump?
House cats can jump to impressive heights. It’s not a rare occurrence for cat owners to come home to find their pet on top of their fridge or cupboards, with no inclination of how they got there. You may think that you’ve hidden the treat jar far out of your kitten’s reach, only to find the jar spilled all over the floor when you get home.
Felines can easily reach vertical heights of six feet when jumping from standing still and can reach even further when they have momentum. If you’re trying to keep a cat in a fenced-in area, you’ll need to have a fully-fenced-in area– meaning ceiling and all.
Can Cats Climb?
Cats are excellent climbers. They can scale chain-link fences for dozens of feet into the air and climb hugely tall trees. Cats have no problem finding their way onto rooftops and leaping between them. They can climb wooden fences, brick walls, and anything that offers some traction.
Cats use their claws to help them climb steep things, digging the sharp tips into the surface and climbing up that way. Cats that are declawed have a much harder time climbing steep or slippery things. Without claws to assist with traction, they will slip off after the tree gets too steep or its bark becomes too slippery.
Felines use climbing and jumping interchangeably, utilizing both powerful moves to get where they want to go. Their extremely fast reflexes and athletic ability are what make them so formidable as predators.
Will Cats Get Hurt When They Jump Down?
Cats generally won’t jump down from any height that poses any threat to them. A cat can descend from as impressive heights as it can leap quite safely; however, as cats get older, the landing may be rougher on their joints than the initial jump is.
As your cat reaches ten years old or develops arthritis or any chronic physical pain, you should restrict their need to jump around. You can do this by lowering their cat tower, building stairs up to their usual perches, and getting step stools onto the couch.
If a cat thinks she will get hurt from jumping down from somewhere, she might get “stuck.” You could come home to your kitten stuck atop your wardrobe or clinging to the top of the Christmas tree. Most cats will try and find a way to climb down instead of jump, but they will likely stay put and “meow” for help if they can’t.
Should You Stop a Kitten From Jumping?
You may be concerned that letting your little kitten jump around will cause it injury. The general rule of thumb is that if the cat can jump on something, it can safely jump off that thing. For instance, if your kitty cannot jump on the couch on her own, then you shouldn’t let her jump off of it.
Never put a young animal in a place where it cannot safely get down itself unless you are right there to help them off. Many kittens and puppies had become injured because they fell off a couch or bed when they were too young. However, once your cat can jump on the couch by herself without effort, she is ready to jump off of it, too.
How To Stop a Cat From Jumping on Things
Whether your cat is injured or you simply do not want them to jump on something, there are things you can do to deter them:
- Place double-sided tape around the edge of the surface.
- Lay aluminum foil on the object.
- Spritz lemon water on the thing.
- Store baskets and large objects on top of wardrobes.
- Create a safe place for your cat on the floor.
How Cats Always Land on Their Feet
Many people think that cats use their tails to balance themselves and land on their feet. However, this is not true. While their long tails play a large part in their sense of balance, it isn’t the key factor in a cat’s ability to land on its feet.
What makes a cat so good at landing on its feet is its spine and whiskers. Their spine can twist in multiple directions at once, and cats have whiskers along their cheeks, forehead, forearms, and in front of their ears. Their whiskers aid in their rapid sense of direction, as these sensitive hairs articulate even the slightest change in airflow.
As a cat jumps or falls from any height, their body instinctively twists to the right themselves before they hit the ground. Cats who fall from higher floors have more time to balance themselves out, while cats who fall from lower places have less time to get right-side-up.
Can Cats Jump Higher Than Dogs?
Many dogs are great leapers. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the highest jump ever recorded by a dog was performed by a greyhound, measuring at 6.3 feet (1.9 meters). Given that the average house cat can jump 5′ and the strongest house cats can jump even higher, it’s safe to say that cats can jump higher than dogs. Cats have very strong hind legs that can catapult their light bodies to great heights and distances.
While cats can jump higher than dogs, cats also have a climbing ability that dogs don’t. Felines are much more limber than canines, and their retractable claws and flexible spines and tails give cats the edge over dogs. Dogs are not able to retract their nails, and they are not as flexible. Think of a cat as a mountain climber who can travel vertically and a dog as a hiker who can do some scrambling but is better equipped for horizontal distances.
Why Don’t Cats Climb Down From Things?
If cats are such great jumpers, then why would they ever get “stuck” in trees? Cats are very good at leaping great heights and distances, but they are designed to venture forward, not back. Their hind legs are much more powerful than their front legs, so as they descend a tree, having their front legs do all the work can be risky.
A cat’s claws are also a huge factor in its ability to climb. They can extend their claws at will, using them to dig into objects’ surface and gain traction. However, these claws protrude forward and then curl back. This shape makes them ideal for pulling themselves up a tree, but it is the opposite direction that would help climb down them.
Cats can also fall from great heights and land upright, but that doesn’t mean they won’t potentially break a leg. Your cat is more likely to leap down from a spot that they jumped up to. In this place, they will know how high they are. However, if your cat has climbed up to a perch, it can climb a lot higher than it can jump down.
A cat who has climbed great heights into a tree may realize the peril they are in and wait until help comes. Kittens especially are likely to call for help instead of a jump or climb down.
The average house cat can jump 5′ high, but many can jump even higher. Take the many cats who have been found on fridges or free-standing wardrobes– objects that are almost always taller than 5.5′. If you’re worried about your cat getting injured on the way back down, you can try and block off these perches with large, lightweight items.
- VCA Hospitals: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers
- Animal Planet: Why Do Cats Land on Their Feet
- Guinness World Records: Highest Jump By a Dog
- The Kennel Club: Long Claws
- PetMD: Why Do Cats Get Stuck in Trees
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.