Are cats faster than squirrels?

No, domestic cats are not faster than squirrels and I am pretty convinced that 99% of people reading this article (which will be very few!) already know that. It’s pretty obvious because squirrels are much smaller than domestic cats. Their legs are much shorter. There is less leverage. It’s just not going to happen. We’ve seen domestic cats chase squirrels. They hardly ever catch them but they do sometimes because I’ve seen a domestic cat eating a squirrel! Not very pleasant I have to say.

Squirrel versus cat on speed

Squirrel versus cat on speed. Montage: MikeB from images by Pixabay. Squirrel: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

Squirrels are very quick movers, very athletic even more so than cats. And they zigzag to avoid capture by domestic cats or other predators. And they are fantastic climbers, certainly far superior to domestic cats who are themselves excellent climbers.

In terms of hard data, the top speed of a domestic cat is probably something nearing 30 mph but the cat would have to be fit, of good body weight and fairly young. I would expect the average domestic cat to have a top speed nearer around 25 miles an hour (30 mph is 48 km/h). The squirrel’s top speed is said to be about 15 mph or 24 km/h.

That’s about it in the battle of squirrels versus domestic cats. I’ll waffle for a bit but you don’t have to read it! My cat is pretty fascinated with squirrels. He will sneak out of the cat flap and stalk them. He rarely attempts to catch them perhaps because he knows that he can’t. The squirrels generally disappear when he arrives. An individual squirrel may send out vocal warnings about the presence of my cat to others.

The speed of an animal is largely dependent upon their levers (the length of their legs and the component parts of their legs) and the type of muscles which operate the legs. Flexibility with a floating collar bone helps too as it allows for an increased stride length. Domestic cats have a high proportion of fast twitch muscles which means they can contract very rapidly allowing for quick acceleration and a high speed – which is how domestic cats operate when hunting.

I’m sure that squirrels have exactly the same sort of musculature but they don’t have long levers relative to cats. On a straight dash they are vastly outpaced but in terms of manoeuvrability, sheer athleticism and the ability to evade predators, the squirrel beats the domestic cat hands down.


Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. August 15, 2021

    […] The cat generates impressive speed because they have fast twitch muscles and a floating clavicle which lengthens their stride. The cat is very flexible. As a top predator they are morphologically specialized! Big words. They need that speed as they rely on the stalk and pounce technique. They also need extreme acceleration. They have it. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *