You’ve seen your cat sitting on a table or shelf many times, but is that the maximum height it can reach? Just how high can a cat jump? 

Cats’ bodies are specially designed for hunting. They have strong teeth to chew meat, large ears to pinpoint the location of a mouse from 22 feet, and a balance that even the best tightrope walkers envy. So is all of that related to jumping? Let’s learn:

How High Can a Cat Jump?

Most cats can jump as high as five or six times their own length, which is impressive. But the maximum they can reach depends on many factors, and we’ll explore them in more detail below.

How High Can a Wild Cat Jump?

About 40 wild cat species exist on this planet, and they all seem to have different abilities to jump. So what makes some jump higher than others? In most cases, it depends on the weight or the species

Naturally, lighter cats will be better at jumping than heavier ones. For example, lions aren’t good jumpers in comparison with leopards, which generally weigh less. Still, the lion uses its weight to wrestle its prey to the ground.

We can see this power-to-weight ratio in the wild cats of Sub-Saharan Africa. So how high can a wild cat jump? About 10 to 15 feet in the air, and they catch birds using these impressive jumps. For instance, the Caracal, which belongs to a medium-sized wild cat species, is arguably a high jump leader as it can leap almost 10 feet in the air to bring down its prey. 

And how high can tigers jump? They’re powerful jumpers, famous for leaping as high as 12 to 15 feet in the air. But like other cats, tigers don’t show their jumping capabilities unless there’s a desperate need to do so.

How High Can Kittens Jump?

Most kittens cannot jump high because they lack strength in their hind legs. At about three weeks, they explore the environment and discover their physical abilities. That’s when they become good climbers and try to reach everything from the sofa to people’s legs.

You can notice the behavioral development of kittens at about five weeks of age. That’s when they start running, playing, and imitating their mother. By the sixth week, kittens improve their walking, running, and jumping. They’re fully mobile at eight weeks of age and can perform every move we can expect from cats.

A cat jumping from a wall to the ground shown in the blue sky as background

How Far Can a Cat Jump?

Cats can jump a long distance horizontally, too. Many commercials show cats jumping across the room to emphasize how strong the brand food can make them. 

The cat horizontal jump record is currently seven feet. A cat named Waffle the Warrior from Big Sur, California, holds first place.

How high can a cat jump vertically? The average domestic cat can jump nine feet or more, i.e., five to six times its body length.  But these numbers are for average cats. The breeds that are taller and larger can jump even higher, reaching 10 to 11 feet.

Why Can Cats Jump So High?

The cat’s body is designed for such impressive jumps. But there’s another reason, too. Cats usually don’t want to stay closer to the ground because they’re scared. If we go through the history and evolution of cats, they had to deal with many potential predators, including other cat species, wolves, and foxes. Now, large animals usually don’t chase domesticated cats, but their survival instinct remains strong. That’s why they try to jump on chairs, sofas, and shelves.

Cats may also jump to get away from danger if they feel insecure. It’s essential to understand the reason for their fear and eliminate it from their environment. 

Jumping Perspective — Cats vs Dogs vs Humans

Cats are undoubtedly better at jumping compared to dogs or humans. These adorable furballs have different body structures and limb lengths. According to the Journal of Experimental Biology, what helps them jump high the most is the flexible muscular mass of their back legs that gives them exceptional coordination and balance.

But how high can cats jump compared to people? For starters, cat jumps are more proportional and higher. Still, the world record holder for the highest jump is Javier Sotomayor from Cuba, who jumped eight feet into the air. It’s an unbelievably high record that no domestic cat can break.  However, height plays a massive role. Sotomayor is six feet and four inches tall. That said, domestic cats have outstanding jumping abilities considering they’re only seven inches in height.

Most dogs jump when they’re excited, especially at the door before a walk in the park. But even though they’re larger than cats, they don’t excel at jumping. Dogs have strong, bulky, and muscular bodies, so they’re not as agile as cats. Plus, they lack the powerful hind legs that help cats jump high.

Why Do Cats Land on Their Feet?

You’ve probably seen a cat leaping from a wardrobe to a perfect landing. But how does it do it? Generally, landing on their feet is a reflex that appears in kittens at the age of three to four weeks. When falling from a high place, a cat can twist its body and align itself with perfect balance and flexibility. That’s famous as the cat’s “righting reflex.”

So how high can a cat jump from without getting hurt? Once, a cat fell from 32 stores and survived. Thanks to the higher starting point, the cat had enough time to position its body in the air correctly. The minimum height for a cat to twist is about a foot. 

If you’re a cat owner, be careful when opening windows. A bird or squirrel can easily divert your cat’s attention enough to make it lose balance. Although cats land on their feet, they can get an injury from the fall. 

Is It OK for Cats to Jump So Much?

While jumping is the cat’s natural survival instinct, it can still be annoying to have your cat jumping on furniture all the time. 

If your furry friend keeps doing that in a particular place, try to find the reason behind it. Perhaps there’s access to food or water? Cats often find counters and tables very appealing as they’re looking for food. Also, there might be an exciting view outside that they can only see from a higher place. 

Trying to make your cat jump less may seem impossible, but you can do it with a lot of patience and positive encouragement.

How to Prevent Your Cat From Jumping Everywhere?

The simplest way to prevent your furball from jumping everywhere is to provide a better place for such activities. The best cat trees are a safe and stable way to offer your pet many new high points to explore. Plus, they have areas where your cat can rest. 

But where should you put up that tree? How high can a house cat jump? An average cat can go up four to five feet, so a five to six feet tall cat tree is usually sufficient. Also, you can get cat trees for large cats if your pet needs a bigger area to feel comfortable. 


Cat jumping depends on the breed, age, gender, and fat mass. But there’s no doubt that cats are athletic animals and need to run, jump and climb. It’s all part of their survival instincts. Still, owners should pay attention to any unusual jumping behavior.

So how high can a cat jump? An average one can jump horizontally or vertically up to five or six times its length. But we still hold the world record.

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