LIFESTYLE

How High Can a Cat Jump: And How to Keep Your Feline Friend Safe While Jumping Around Indoors

calico cat jumping
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Cats have an amazing build. Their agile, graceful, and strong bodies are capable of fitting into small places, running at high speeds, and jumping almost anywhere. After the initial shock, most owners get used to seeing their feline looking down at them perched on the highest shelf. We witness the amazing jumping skills of our cats on a daily basis, but there is still the question of exactly how high can a cat jump?

Cats have excellent jumping and climbing skills thanks to their ancestors, wild cats, that spent better the parts of their days carrying prey up a tree and jumping from one branch to another.

Although house cats are fed by their owners and don’t need to hunt to survive they are still, above all, hunters that have retained excellent jumping abilities. However, having a house cat that can easily outjump your height possesses some risks to her as well as to your valuables, so it is a good thing to learn how to limit jumping areas to a cat-friendly zone.

In this article, you will find out how high can a house cat jump, why are cats able to jump so high, and how to pull your cat’s attention from unsafe jumping surfaces. There is no way to stop a cat from jumping; however, there are ways to keep her safe inside your home.

The Answer to the Question: “How High Can a Cat Jump?”

white and orange cat jumping

Have you ever seen a cat run across a yard and then jump almost halfway up a tree trunk? If not, you have probably seen your cat gracefully leap from the ground in one second and then laying perched on top of your kitchen cabinet without breaking a sweat in the next.

These amazing stunts are possible only because domestic cats are so closely related to their wild ancestors.

Domestic cats inherited extremely strong legs and a great deal of flexibility from wild cats that had to hunt for their meals to survive. Most wild cats eat on trees, and carrying a meal up a tree trunk requires great agility and hind legs strength.

While your kitty doesn’t have to carry a gazelle up the tree and jump from one branch to another to avoid predators, she still possesses the same leaping abilities as her ancestors.

Thanks to her powerful leg muscles and flexible spinal column, an average-sized cat can jump five to six times her length. That is approximately 8 feet in a single bound. That is how high a house cat can jump without having a running start.

Don’t forget that these clearing distances only apply to an average cat; the taller the cat is, the higher she will be able to jump. On the other hand, chubbier cats have more weight to carry and consequently aren’t able to jump as high as their thinner counterparts.

See Also: How Much Should a Cat Weigh

The wold’s record for men’s high jump category is held by Javier Sotomayor with a jump of 8′ 5”, which is barely higher than the jump of an average house cat.

Cats are natural athletes, and you shouldn’t be jealous because your feline is a better jumper than you. Years of evolution and the fact that cats are smaller and carry a lot less weight than we do give them the advantage when it comes to jumping.

The Mechanics of a Cat’s Amazing Jump

cat jumping on coach

Living with a feline, you probably got a chance to observe a cat readying herself to make a jump. To an untrained eye, it may seem that the cat is nervous or fidgeting, but that’s far from the truth.

In those moments a cat is preparing herself to release large amounts of energy in a very short burst. She needs to test the surface she is standing at, gauge the distance she will have to cover and calculate how much energy she will have to release to make a successful jump.

After all the preparations are done, a cat will crouch, bend her limbs, and tighten her body like a spiral—after which she uncoils and pushes off the surface into the air.

Seeing a cat leap into the air is a magnificent thing, and it is also a chance to see all of her agile muscles in action. Unfortunately, the leap lasts only a few seconds—after which the cat will have already gracefully landed on her new perch like nothing happened.

Because of their ancestry, cats are able to jump safely onto whatever surface, no matter how small or high it seems to us. The anatomy of a cat is fascinating, and with the use of all the muscles and tail for extra balance, everything seems so effortless and gracefully executed.

In some occasions, you can also see a cat using her claws to latch on and propel her body onto a surface that was almost out of reach.

How to Provide Safe Jumping Surfaces in Your Home

Cats are born to jump and climb, and there is nothing you can do to stop these urges completely, and you shouldn’t since jumping is an excellent way to exercise.

Unfortunately, indoors only cats often don’t have adequate spaces to climb and jump onto, and owners often find themselves cleaning broken china or buying new drapes every couple of months.

Luckily, there are ways to keep your home intact and still provide your kitty with jumping surfaces that will keep her fit and entertained.

#1: Keep Your Shelves Clean

cat lying on shelf

Shelves make the perfect perches and cats love jumping on them no matter how high they are. However, most owners don’t get overly excited about seeing their kitty cozying up to an antique china vase. To make shelves in your home less interesting to your cat, you should keep them clean and clutter free.

That means that all valuable things have to be out of reach, but keep in mind that cats can jump really high, so out of reach means inside a shelf with a glass door or in a bookcase.

The fewer knick-knacks you leave on the shelves, the less interested your kitty will be to investigate.

See Also: DIY Cat Shelves

#2: Invest in Kitty Furniture

Instead of trying to stop your cat from jumping onto furniture, invest in a nice piece of kitty furnitures like a cat tree or a scratcher. There is a variety of cat trees available nowadays, and they support a cat’s natural climbing and jumping urges.

Some cat trees are also equipped with kitty condos, scratching posts, perches, and toys that will keep your cat entertained and less inclined to jump onto your furniture.

To make things even more interesting, you can place the cat tree near the window and offer your kitty a chance to watch the outside world and bathe in the sun.

In some cases, a cat will jump onto your furniture because she doesn’t have her own, and a cat tree can solve both the jumping and the furniture problem since it has ample sleeping space and is specially designed to promote jumping.

#3: Keep Food Off Tables and Kitchen Counters

orange cat lying on table

Cats are, by nature, curious creatures, and there isn’t anything more interesting than the smell of freshly made human food.

Most cats simply cannot resist the smell of dinner being cooked and will soon join you by leaping on the countertop. And while it is safe for cats to eat certain types of human food once in a while, foods like grapes and chocolate are toxic to cats and can put your feline’s health at risk.

If you don’t spend all day at home, it is best to keep all the food away from tables and kitchen counters while you aren’t there to prevent your kitty from ingesting an unsafe food.

If your cat is persistent and keeps on leaping on the counters every time she gets into the kitchen, you should keep her in a separate room while the meal is prepared.

You can also discourage an always hungry cat from jumping on kitchen counters by offering her more cat food. It may be that your kitty isn’t getting enough food and the only way she is able to let you know is by jumping on the countertop and munching on your food.

Offer your cat a few smaller meals per day if she isn’t overweight and you can also try free feeding and see if her jumping and begging for food will improve.

See Also: How to Keep Cats Off Counters

#4: Close the Blinds

How many times did you come home to find your kitty basking in the sun on the window sill and all your plants and pots laying on the ground in heaps of scattered soil? Probably too many, since cats love to sleep in the sun and watch birds and other animals through the window.

The easiest thing to do to keep your cat from jumping onto the window sill is to obstruct your kitty’s view of the outdoors by closing the blinds.

An alternative is to install a kitty perch shelf near the window in a sunny place. These cat shelves are easily found in stores, and some of them even have heating pads to keep your kitty warm even during winter.

This small piece of cat furniture will help your cat practice her jumping abilities and also provide her with her own space that won’t largely impact the overall look of your home.

See Also: DIY Cat Window Perch

#5: Use Safe Deterrents

There is a variety of efficient deterrent devices available in pet stores that are designed to frighten a cat when she jumps onto a surface you don’t want her to be.

Since most cats don’t like the feel of double-sided tape on their paws, you can try it first before purchasing any of the commercial deterrent products.

You just have to place the tape in places you don’t want your kitty jumping on and see how she reacts. This is a painless approach that won’t frighten your cat or make her scared of you and works in most cases.

You shouldn’t shout, punish, or use a spray bottle on your kitty in order to discourage her from jumping since these approaches will make her afraid of you.

#6: Try to Understand Why Your Cat Jumps

white and orange cat jumping at home

Jumping is a natural thing for all cats; it keeps them safe, fit, and entertained. However, cats also jump onto high places when they want to hide from someone. This is exactly the same thing their ancestors did to hide weaknesses when they were injured, and your kitty may be trying to hide an injury from you.

Try to observe your cat’s jumping behaviors and patterns, so you will know when she is spending more time hidden on top of a wardrobe. If you suspect that your kitty is hiding an injury, try to tempt her to come down by laying kibble in her line of sight.

On the other hand, cats can also jump and hide in high places because they are afraid of something in their environment. In this case, think about things that could be scaring your kitty and remove them, or ask yourself if you made any recent changes in your household that might seem scary to your feline.

Once you’ve found and removed the culprit, your cat will need some time to feel safe again, and you shouldn’t interfere with her process. Offer her love and support, and in time your cat will not feel the need to jump on cabinets and wardrobes to hide.

See Also: How to Get a Cat Out of Hiding

Wrap Up

tabby cat jumping

Domestic cats excel in jumping and climbing thanks to their extremely strong, agile, and flexible bodies—especially around their hind legs and spinal column.

Seeing a cat jump is a daily occurrence for every cat owner and one of the things you simply have to learn to live with, but still, most owners don’t know exactly how high a cat can jump.

An average cat can jump 5 or 6 times her length, which translates into roughly 8 feet. Taller cats can jump even higher. Jumping is written in every cat’s DNA, but leaping on counter tops and shelves full of breakable items can jeopardize the safety of your cat.

To keep your feline safe and fit and at the same time away from your bookcases and shelves, it is best to invest in a cat tree, that can serve as cat furniture, a place to jump onto and scratch, and an overall playhouse that will keep your kitty entertained.

How high can your cat jump as compared to the public average? Which spots in the house does she like to jump onto the most? Share your insight with us in the comment section below. You might also be interested to know how do cats always land on their feet.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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