LIFESTYLE

How Fast Can a Cat Run: Knowing Your Pet’s Athletic Abilities

orange cat running fast
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Have you ever seen your cat go after a scampering prey? If so, you might have been shocked to see your usually lazy and slow-moving cat sprint at lightning speed. And it might have led you to think about how fast can a cat run. Isn’t it a wonder how such a seemingly lazy creature can have surprising agility?

Knowing more about your pet’s athletic abilities isn’t just informative, it can also be a source of fun and entertainment. When you know how agile and nimble your pet can be, you can train your cat to do some tricks only the really athletic pets can do. Here we’ll help you learn more about the extent of your cat’s physical abilities that he/she rarely shows in everyday life.

In this article, we’ll first talk about how athletic cats can be—why they can run so fast. And in case you’re wondering how fast can a domestic cat run, we’ll also talk about some of the fastest cat breeds.

Cats are Built for Speed

cat running in snow

The fastest land animal on earth is a cat, albeit a wild one. Cheetahs have been recorded to sprint at 65 miles per hour or an astonishing 105 kilometers per hour. That’s way faster than the legal speed limit in many American states. What’s even more amazing is that cheetahs can accelerate from zero to 48 miles or 77 kilometers per hour in just 2 seconds.

Although domestic cats aren’t as fast as wild cheetahs, your domestic feline may be able to run as fast as 30 miles or 48 kilometers per hour. That’s a lot faster than you can run, so think twice before you run after your darting cat.

Actually, even if Usain Bolt were the one to go after your cat, he still won’t be able to catch your pet. Usain Bolt’s fastest record was an amazing 27.44 mph, but he still won’t be able to beat an Egyptian Mau, which is considered the fastest domestic cat breed.

This means that even if you sprint hard, your cat will still be way ahead of you. Add to that the fact that your pet can go from standstill to 30 mph in a heartbeat, and you’ll virtually have no chance of catching your mischievous pet if he doesn’t want to be caught.

There are many reasons why cats are able to sprint so fast:

#1: Their Paws

cat's paws

First off, cats run and walk on their toes. Since only a small part of their feet touch the ground, it generates less friction, enabling cats to run fast with only minimal friction resistance.

#2: Their Back Legs

Secondly, cats have extremely powerful back legs. Think of your pet’s back legs as catapults. The powerful back legs are extended way out in front when cats are running.

They literally act like springs that can catapult your pet up to six times their own height. And they can do that even from a sitting start. These powerful back legs also give cats their amazing ability to twist and turn even when running at great speeds.

#3: Their Bone Structure

black cat jumping

Thirdly, cats have extremely flexible backbones. This gives cats the ability to move in such a manner that almost no other animal can. Cats have a free-floating clavicle, and this means that their shoulders have a lot of freedom of movement.

This helps explain why cats can run in such fluid motions. They can swing their shoulders freely as they move their legs, making it possible for them to run swiftly with grace.

This is also the reason why your cat can place his front paws almost anywhere with ease, allowing him to squeeze through tight places or change directions mid-air.

See Also: How Many Bones Do Cats Have

#4: Their Agility

Plus, cats have this extremely rare ability to right themselves so that even if they fall, they always land upright.

You may have noticed that your cat can make sharp turns at full speed better than a million-dollar sports car can, and that’s because cats are extremely agile creatures.

Changing directions, split-second starts, and aerial maneuvers are just basic for these flexible and graceful animals.

Add to that, cats can jump as high as five or six times their own height, which no human can ever do. There’s just no denying the fact that cats are simply one of the most athletic animals on the planet.

See Also: How Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet

By the way, if you can’t believe that just because you see your feline pet napping all the time and you can’t imagine your cat doing all those athletic maneuvers, that’s because napping is your cat’s way of saving energy.

When your cat hunts, it takes a lot of energy. Even if it’s just a piece of paper or a ball of yarn that your pet is pouncing on, that one burst of speed actually consumes a lot of your pet’s reserved energy. Your pet will nap again after hunting successfully.

If you’re running after your cat to give your pet a bath, you’ll need to be more creative in coming up with ways to catch your sprinting pet.

The thing is, although cats can run very fast, they can only do so for a short time. Cats are actually sprinters, meaning they can run fast but only in bursts. Simply put, cats just aren’t built for distance running. They’ll need to take a breather after a minute or less of fast sprinting. And that’s when you should try to catch your pet.

Fastest Cat Breeds

Just like in dogs wherein some breeds are fast while others are slow, there are also cat breeds that are faster than others.

Some breeds like the Ragamuffin and Ragdoll are quite popular for their laidback personalities. Some cat parents would call them low-energy breeds; others would simply refer to them as downright lazy. But the following speedy cat breeds are totally something else.

#1: Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau playing

The Egyptian Mau is considered the fastest cat breed, with a top speed of 30 miles per hour. Cats of this breed have extremely powerful legs which allow them to run fast and catapult themselves up in the air and onto high perches.

Although considered only medium sized at 6 to 14 pounds, Egyptian Mau cats are very athletic. You will often see these cats jumping and climbing hard to reach perches or stalking and pouncing on their selected prey.

Egyptian Mau cats are adored for their striking green eyes and beautifully spotted bronze, silver, or smoke coats. These cats are very playful and affectionate. But they prefer playing with their human family members than with strangers.

You would think that because they’re very active, Egyptian Maus are difficult to groom. On the contrary, they’re actually known to be easy to groom. In part, that’s because Egyptian Mau cats love to play with water, so it’s quite easy to convince them to take a bath.

#2: Abyssinian

Abyssinian cat running

Abyssinian cats are known for their high energy and intelligence. These cats are very active, and they love being on the move. If you want to help your Abyssinian cat maintain their agility, you can give them food puzzles and daily exercises.

Abyssinian cats also love feline agility courses, and they can be very quick about it. These cats learn tricks easily so you’ll have fun training them. They’re very entertaining but can also be quite a handful.

These cats are very athletic, and they love to play. Abyssinian cats know how to enjoy life. They fun faster, jump farther, climb higher, and play harder than most other cat breeds.

Abyssinian cats are popular for their love of heights. If you can give your Abyssinian cat the tallest cat tree you can find, your pet will surely love climbing up and down on it.

They’re very inquisitive, and if something catches their interest, they tend to just take it, which is why Abyssinian cats are often nicknamed Abby-Grabby. Abyssinian cats are also known to be very demanding, and they love being the center of attention.

#3: Somali

Somali cat running

Somali cats are just like Abyssinians, except they’ve got long hair. But in terms of athletic abilities, the two breeds are almost similar. Somali cats have impressively muscular bodies and really strong legs.

You’ll enjoy giving your Somali cat trick training. And because they’re extremely fast and agile, you might need to put a leash on them when you take them for walks outdoors.

Somali cats are very lively, and they love interacting with their human family members. In fact, you’ll often find a Somali cat doing everything just to catch your attention. That’s just their way of saying you should play with them.

Somali cats are adored for their foxy looks. They have large ears, distinctive facial markings, and dark hocks. Their tails are usually full and bushy. Their bodies are well-proportioned and muscular, which enables them to powerfully sprint at full speed.

#4: Bengal

Bengal Cat running in snow

Bengal cats are some of the most active cats since they love playing and being on the move. Bengal cats are very good at finding their way to the highest spots in the house, and they love to stay in those elevated perches.

If you want a gentle feline who’ll stay curled up on your lap all day, a Bengal cat isn’t the one you’re looking for. Bengal cats want to play almost all day, and they’ll demand your attention and time. What’s amusing is that they’ll do everything to get what they want and it’s really fun to watch them trying their best.

Bengal cats are high-energy, athletic cats. They’re very inquisitive and affectionate. You’ll enjoy teaching these cats tricks. And because they’re very intelligent, you can even teach them house rules. They’ll follow those, just to be able to stay close to you.

Bengal cats are also known for their love of water. Not satisfied with just turning the faucet on, Bengal cats may actually join you in the shower.

These beautifully spotted cats are the only known breed to have rosette markings on their coats similar to what leopards have. Underneath their plush coats, Bengal cats are very muscular.

Their thick tails provide balance, allowing their long bodies to accomplish various athletic feats. Observing a Bengal cat in motion is such a treat because they’re extremely graceful and elegant, especially when they’re running after prey.

#5: Savannah

Savannah cat walking

Just like Bengal cats, Savannah cats also love high perches. Their long, lithe bodies allow them to reach all those elevated spots in the house, even those which look really impossible to get to.

Savannah cats are the result of a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. This breed is known not just for their athleticism, but they’re also loved for their huge pointed ears and beautifully spotted golden, black, or silver coat. Savannah cats are extremely curious and highly intelligent.

Savannah cats are adventurous, and they enjoy speeding around the house. If you’re planning to take your Savannah cat outdoors, you might want to think about putting a leash on your pet. If not, your Savannah cat might just take off at the speed of light, in search of new adventures.

#6: Manx

Manx cat running

Manx cats are adored for their lack of tail. Their stump can vary in length, and some are even completely tailless. Despite this seeming disadvantage, Manx cats are actually very athletic. They’re fast, agile, and jump as high as any other cat, or even better than most cats.

Manx cats are known for being active and intelligent. They’re very strong and robust. Their back legs are actually longer than their front legs, and this enables them to run at extremely fast speeds.

Appearance-wise, Manx cats look rounded, and they can either be longhaired or shorthaired. They have double coats which are very dense. Almost everything about Manx cats looks rounded—their bodies, their ears, their heads, and even their eyes.

#7: Siamese

Siamese kitten running

Siamese cats are one of the most playful, active, and demanding cat breeds. Siamese cats are known for their intelligence. This, for many cat parents, means dealing with a very mischievous cat who knows how to find the most inventive hiding spots.

You should try keeping your Siamese cat preoccupied with puzzle toys, clicker, and agility training, just to keep your pet out of mischief. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with a very vocal bored cat. And these cats won’t hesitate to give you a piece of their mind, in their loud, raspy voices.

Siamese cats are popular for their sleek and elegant looks. They’re among the most aristocratic-looking cat breeds, with their piercing blue almond eyes and chiseled features.

#8: Ocicat

Ocicat walking

Ocicats are another breed of adorably spotted cats. Ocicats are known for their large build and muscular bodies. This makes them extremely strong, and they’re popular for their speed and agility.

Despite their large builds, Ocicats are very social creatures, and they love to interact and play with their owners. You can teach these cats to retrieve toys, and they’ll love you for it. You can also train Ocicats to walk on a leash.

Keep your Ocicat preoccupied by giving your pet puzzle toys. Otherwise, you might find all your cabinets and cupboards wide open. These very inquisitive cats actually know how to open latches, and they will explore whatever they can lay their hands on.

#9: Oriental

black oriental cat running

Very elegant looking in their long and svelte bodies, Oriental cats are quite demanding. But they do show fierce loyalty toward their cat parents, which makes them extremely adorable.

Oriental cats need a lot of stimulation, so you’ll need to keep your pet preoccupied with a lot of exercise, puzzle toys, and playtime. Just like Siamese cats, Oriental cats are also very vocal, and they will exercise their vocal cords if they think you’re not paying attention to them.

Oriental cats are known for their colorful personalities. They’re people lovers, and they always want you to acknowledge their presence, like nudging you while you’re busy or trailing behind you as you take care of chores around the house.

Oriental cats are highly intelligent and curious. If you happen to hide a treat in your purse, don’t be surprised if your Oriental cat has found a way to open your purse and get the treat without waiting for your permission.

Oriental cats are very graceful, and when they move, it’s as if they’re just gliding. Their sleek bodies allow them to run really fast and they’re considered one of the fastest cat breeds.

Wrap Up

cat running very fast

Do you know any other cat breed that can also run fast? If your pet belongs to one of the breeds described in this article, what’s it like living with an active, fast, and athletic cat? Do share your experience with us. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below, and don’t forget to check out our other informative articles, such as how many sounds can a cat make.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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