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Cats are known to always land on their feet, thanks to their amazing righting reflexes. But have you ever wondered how high your feline housemate can jump?
Well, we’ve done the research for you and uncovered the average height adult cats can jump, including factors that determine that distance. Read on and be inspired.
How High Can Cats Jump?
An adult cat can jump approximately 5 – 6 times his own height.
Now, most adult cat breeds have a height of 30 centimeters. Which means that these animals can jump 150 – 180 centimeters or 1.5 – 1.8 meters.
Note that the height of a cat is measured from the ground to their withers (shoulders). The same applies to all quadrupeds – animals that stand on four feet.
Is 150 – 180 Centimeters Cast In Stone?
150 – 180 centimeters is only the average height adult cats can jump. It’s by no means cast in stone.
The actual height your feline friend can jump may further depend on factors like age, weight, health, breed, agility, and mental state.
Cats in their prime age (2 – 4 years) will naturally achieve a higher jump than kittens and elderly cats.
2. Weight and Agility
Weight and agility share an inverse relationship in terms of determining how high cats can jump. Lighter cats tend to be more agile; hence, able to leap much higher than their heavier counterparts.
A healthy cat will undoubtedly jump higher than a sick cat. That’s especially true for sicknesses that impair mobility, such as osteoarthritis.
Cats with taller legs are likely to achieve a greater jump than their short-legged counterparts. Some breeds known for jumping include Maine Coons, Savannas, Abyssinians, Siberians, and Oriental Shorthairs.
5. Mental State
A cat’s mental state will also influence his jumping abilities. For instance, a cat is likely to jump higher when startled.
Which Cat Holds The Record For The Longest Jump?
A cat named Waffle the Warrior holds the Guinness World
Record for the longest cat jump of 213.36 centimeters or 2.13 meters. Waffle the Warrior is a Maine Coon cat from Big Sur, California, United States. The cat achieved that impressive feat on January 30, 2018, and has held onto the title since then.
Why Do Cats Jump?
Cats jump for numerous reasons. The most common one is to find the perfect perch, usually to nap, escape danger, or simply have an amazing view of the ground below. In a cat’s eyes, an excellent view could be from a kitchen counter, high fence, or tall tree. If the spot is comfortable enough, the animal will not hesitate to take a nap there.
Another reason cats jump is to get to the other side of a fence. This is common in homes with relatively tall fences or wall perimeters. If your kitty ventured outdoors and you accidentally locked him out of the compound, the animal will attempt to jump to the highest point of the fence from which he can comfortably scale it and climb down on the other side.
Last but not least, cats jump when startled. In this case, jumping is an involuntary reaction to a potential threat.
Why Are Cats Able To Jump So High?
Cats’ ability to jump so high mainly comes down to their springy hind legs.
A cat’s back legs are stronger, longer, and incredibly flexible than their front legs. They also have ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers that aid bursts of movement.
Besides, a cat’s hind legs are angled. This offers better shock absorption when landing from relatively high jumps.
The following are other reasons that make cats able to spring so high;
a) Nerve Receptors on Paw Cushions
A cat’s paw cushions have plenty of nerve receptors. These receptors help the cat figure out the best ground surfaces from which to jump. They also improve balance midair.
b) Tail for Steering and Balance
A cat’s tail helps propel the animal high up in the air. It also works synergistically with the numerous receptors on his paw cushions to improve balance.
c) Muscular Body
Cats have more than 500 muscles. All these muscles are involved in burst movements, such as jumping.
d) Flexible Spine
Cats have over 200 highly flexible bones that are interconnected using cushioning disks. These include more than 30 in their spine and 23 in their tail.
Not only are a cat’s flexible bones involved in propelling him up into the air. They also aid the animal’s righting reflexes.
Cats can rotate their spines and twist their bodies midair far much better than most animals. It’s these incredibly abilities that make your feline friend able to land on his feet.
Another standout feature of a cat’s spine is the shoulder blades that attach to the rest of the body via muscles as opposed to bones. This gives the animal’s shoulders tremendous freedom to move independently, further increasing his ability to jump high and land on his knees.
What’s more, cats have tiny rudimentary collarbones. That’s in contrast to humans whose collarbone is fairly long and anchored. A cat’s tiny collarbones allow the animal to squeeze through tight spaces, sometimes even while midair.
e) It’s In Their DNA
Evolution has prepared cats to jump so high. Before domestication by humans, the cat needed to jump to high perches to escape potential predators, observe the prey below, or rest after a hearty meal.
Therefore, the ability to jump so high is pretty much ingrained in a housecat’s DNA. And it’s still observable in most of his wild cousins, such as leopards, cheetahs, and tigers.
Do A Cat’s Front Legs Aid His Reflexes?
A cat’s hind legs may take most of the credit for the animal’s unmatched reflexes. But the front legs also play a part in determining how high your cat can jump and whether he’ll really land on his feet.
When cats jump, they extend their front legs to reach out to their intended destination. This helps increase the distance the animal can leap while also offering stability when landing.
Besides, the claws in the front legs are usually extended to help them firmly grasp the landing surface.
What of the Whiskers?
A cat’s whiskers also play some role in aiding the animal’s righting reflexes. The whiskers contain proprioceptive follicle cells which allow the cat to determine his spatial location and body orientation while midair.
The whiskers can also sense tiny vibrations and changes in air currents. This helps protect a cat’s fragile face and eyes from smashing into objects as he lands on a surface.
Cats have a natural need to jump to high perches. And while these adorable furballs will always land on their feet, it’s important to ensure their playing patch is free from objects that may injure them while landing.