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How High Can Cats Jump?

From jumping on beds, chairs, tables, shelves, and counters, a cats’ affinity towards jumping is certainly no secret. With that said, how high can cats even jump? And what lies in their physiology that allows them to achieve such heights?

A healthy, adult cat can jump four to five feet high, equaling five to six times their height measured from the ground to their shoulders. Javier Sotomayor holds the record for the highest jump by a cat, who can jump an astonishing leap of 8 feet. 

Our Feline Friends’ Amazing Jumping Ability 

It’s common knowledge that our furry, feline pets can jump to high lengths nearly effortlessly. Several factors contribute to a cat’s jumping ability, including weight, height, age, agility, and overall physical health. A smaller cat may not jump as high as a breed of cat bigger in stature, like how younger kittens cannot jump the same as fully-grown cats.

Numerous factors can affect a cat’s ability to jump which include the length of the hind limbs, fat mass relative to lean body mass, and age. A young kitten or senior cat with arthritis will not be able to jump as high, and underlying medical conditions which may affect mobility or energy levels.

Julia Wilson, Cat World

An adult cat can jump four to five feet high, an average of five to six times its height. As the average height of a grown cat is 12 inches or 30 centimeters, measuring from the ground to their shoulders, a healthy cat can jump from 59 inches or 4.9 feet to 70.8 inches or 5.9 feet. (Source: Cat World

A study entitled Thigh muscle activity during maximum-height jumps by cats, which focused on a cat’s thigh muscles, recorded a cat jumping seven to eight times their actual height to catch a cotton ball suspended in the air. (Source: Journal of Neurophysiology

The Guinness world record for the longest jump by a cat is 7 ft or 213.26 centimeters, with the title held by Waffle the Warrior Cat. Meanwhile, the record for the highest jump by a male cat is 8 ft or 2.45 meters, achieved by Javier Sotomayor in Cuba. (Source: Cat World

How Can Cats Jump So High?

A study written by Michelle Harris and Karen Steudel in 2002 for the Journal of Experimental Biology reports that the reasoning behind the extraordinary jumping ability of cats lies in their limb lengths and the muscle mass of their hind legs. Moreover, a higher fat mass cannot jump as high as cats with lean bodies. Cats begin their jumping by initially deeply crouching, and following that, the cats lift their forelegs before extending their back legs, springing to jump.

We found that variation in cat maximum TOV (takeoff velocity) is significantly explained by both hind limb length and fat mass relative to lean body mass, but not by extensor muscle mass relative to lean mass or fast-twitch fiber content. The effect of body fat mass is pervasive because it reduces the proportion of muscle mass or body mass.

Michelle Harris and Karen Steudel

(Source: Journal of Experimental Biology)

Cats also rely on other body parts to spring highly, such as their flexible spinal column and tail. Other than relaying information to a cat’s brain, their pliable spinal column aids them in achieving an agile leap. And their tail provides balance when jumping high. A cat’s tail also serves as a counterbalance, which is pivotal when they’re on a high and thin place, such as a tree branch. (Source: Purrfect n Pawesome

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