Whether it’s from the fridge’s peak or a tree branch in the yard, your cat’s built to take in life from way up high.
Sure, cats might love basking in a sunlit spot. But before you know it, they’ll spring up, and how far they can reach is astonishing.
How high can a cat jump, you ask? Up to 8 feet in one leap! Here’s the inside scoop on how they pull it off.
How Do Cats Jump That High?
Meet Rowyn C. Rose, a cat science expert at Basepaws, a place that knows all about cat DNA. She tells us that all house cats come from the North African/Near Eastern wildcat, a tree-loving creature.
“These wildcats needed to be able to swiftly jump to high perches for safety, observation, and rest. They also needed the ability to jump, twist, and turn—both to pursue prey and to evade predators,” she explains. “The domestic cats of today have retained many of the same anatomical features of their wildcat ancestors.”
Rose tells us that today’s kitty is just made for jumping:
– Cats have over 500 muscles, and they use ’em all when leaping.
– Stronger back legs and special “fast twitch” muscles give cats the power for quick moves. Their legs are shaped to cushion the landing, too.
– The soft pads on their feet have lots of nerve sensors. These help them pick the best spots to jump from and keep their balance. Their tails help with balance as well.
– Cats reach out with their front legs as soon as they jump. “Their front legs allow for more stability, and their claws can also help them grasp landing surfaces, which can provide even more stability,” says Rose.
– A cat’s got more than 200 bones, even up to 23 in their tail and 30 in their back. Their bendy spine lets them change direction mid-air to land softly. It’s something cool called the “righting reflex.”
– Whiskers have special cells that help a cat know where it is in relation to the ground, Rose tells us. They feel tiny shakes and air movements, keep their eyes safe from things like twigs, and help them figure out how big or small a space is—all super handy for jumping.
How High and Far Can Cats Leap?
A healthy grown-up cat can jump around five or six times its body length. That’s about 8 feet up in the air and almost the same distance straight across!
There’s even a record holder named Waffle the Warrior Cat, a snazzy-looking fellow in a tuxedo, who can jump a whopping 7 feet.
So, if you think that bag of cat treats is out of reach on your fridge, don’t be shocked if you find your cat enjoying a treat feast one day.
Now, not all cats are jump champions. The little-legged cats like Munchkins, with their teeny-tiny legs, might not soar as high. But Rose points out that these cat breeds are famous for their jumping skills:
– Oriental shorthair
– Savannah cat
Why Cats Leap So High?
Cats love to jump up high, looking for the perfect spot to perch. Whether it’s counters, curtains, or even Christmas trees, they’ll climb it.
Rose tells us this jumping habit comes from their wild ancestors, and it’s probably for the same reasons. Cats jump because they feel safe up high, want to see everything, or are just curious about what’s around them.
If you’re a cat lover, Rose says you should help your cats reach those high places safely. “Ways to do this could include having a cat tree that they can climb up with different levels of perches, a windowsill seat, or even ‘cozy-fying’ an already existing shelf space that’s stable and out of harm’s way.”
Keeping Your Cat’s Jumps Safe
But should you let your cat turn your home into a playground? Well, not always. Rose warns that cats don’t know if stoves or other hot things are on. If they jump near them, they might get hurt.
Rose thinks about safety and what her cats can do at their ages. “My 14-year-old cat has different needs when it comes to jumping or climbing than my 5-year-old cat does,” she says. ” I have cat trees in a safe place and a catio that provides stability and access to different levels of height. I also provide supportive props, such as pet stairs, so that my older cat can more easily reach higher areas and come back down in ways that are kinder to his joints.”
Rose also says that cats learn well with treats and clicker training. If some places in your house are no-jump zones, you can teach your kitty to find better spots to leap. It’s a kind, fun way to keep them safe and happy.