Cat Jumping Skills. It Depends on the Cat

All healthy, average weight cats are good jumpers (and by human standards, amazing jumpers) but some are better than others. Cats do vary in their skills just as they do in their characters.

Here are two extremes:


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Still not out of reach

Admittedly the bad jumper is overweight and he might be middle-aged or older. The slender super-jumper is very impressive indeed. You can see how he hauls himself up the last couple of feet.

The jumping ability comes from fast twitch muscles, long levers (long bones in the legs providing excellent leverage) and excellent orientation skills. You’ll see a cat sway his head from side to side at the target or landing zone. He does this to get a good fix on the position by using his binocular vision.

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Dwarf cats such as the Munchkin have short legs. They can still jump well but less well than a normal cat because they have less leverage.

Good jumping skills probably also depends on the confidence of the cat. Outgoing confident cats might be better jumpers than timid cats.

Probably the world’s best cat jumper is the cougar – powerful hind quarters and long limbs.

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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.

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33 Responses

  1. kylee says:

    meow im rebel now.

  2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    There’s no way to see if the first cat is declawed or not and he/she seems to have misjudged the gap, but the second one certainly isn’t and that clip shows exactly how important claws are, he/she would have slid off that height without front claws!
    Walter and Jozef can launch from the desk in my bedroom window to the top of the wardrobe and from the top of the fridge freezer to the top of their food cupboard.
    Also they can run up the eight foot high fence around our garden and haul themselves up the last bit like the second cat did, then cling on the top and balance on a narrow walkway.
    Cats are amazing!

    • Caroline says:

      Well, Ruth, this is so much fun, not only for our healthy cats, but for us as well 😉 sHRIMPTARO, Just surprised me, and leaped from the floor to the credenza in front of the window where I sleep. This is a new one on me, for usually he likes to just ask me to pick him up! what a little shit! I cannot stop loving this blind and unable to speak –dumb- five year old ginger tabby. Shrimpster is my all time favorite, besides Michael. 😉
      “They” usually tortuously remove the front claws, not the hind. It really doesn’t matter, though. NO CLAWS SHOULD BE REMOVED. ever. mmmmgggrrrrrrrrr………

      • My little Missie could jump 7-8 feet to the top of a large fridge/freezer. She was awesome. I keep mentioning that because I love her even though she died 20 years ago.

        • Caroline says:

          I am sorry that she had to leave you, Michael. Sometimes I wish–we all do, I know–that we were blessed by the powers that be, to have the same lifespan. And I really do mean the same… But then, how could we ever come into play with our new friends, nicht wahr?

        • kylee says:

          we never forget our gone cats. They will forever be in our hearts

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        There are also many cats four paw declawed! Imagine how cruel a vet must be to do that!

        • That must have quite a detrimental effect on jumping skills and confidence. I think the effect on confidence may be the worst impact.

        • Caroline says:

          If they declaw the front alone, they are just as cruel. you know? I cannot imagine it at any level of such cruelty.

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            Yes declawing is cruel no matter how many paws but declawing 4 paws means 4 painful feet to walk on, unimaginable how a cat could cope with that. I’ve seen a video of a cat lifting her 2 front declawed paws in turn, for a bit of relief from pressure, how on earth could a 4 paw declawed cat even walk about at first?
            I just can’t come to terms with the cruelty of any vet who does declawing!

        • Caroline says:

          It took me awhile to understand what you meant, Ruth, as I’ve never experienced nurturing a declawed cat. I see it now. No claws, no grip. 🙁

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            Hi Caroline, I’ve never seen a declawed cat in real life thank goodness but it stands to reason that they have no grip, cats need to dig their claws in for climbing and balancing is awkward for declawed cats too because they slide on shiny surfaces.

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            Something else to show your vet Caroline, I received this today from Jennifer Conrad the Paw Project vet:

            Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Professor of Behavioral Pharmacology and Director of the Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and internationally known specialist in domestic animal behavioral research, explains declawing:

            “The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated by the nature of cats’ recovery from anesthesia following the surgery. Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering surgeries, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably by overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and dismember all apply to this surgery. Partial digital amputation is so horrible that it has been employed for torture of prisoners of war, and in veterinary medicine, the clinical procedure serves as model of severe pain for testing the efficacy of analgesic drugs. Even though analgesic drugs can be used postoperatively, they rarely are, and their effects are incomplete and transient anyway, so sooner or later the pain will emerge.”

    • run up the eight foot high fence

      Yes, cats are amazing the way they can run up vertically. This is a combination of claws for grip, momentum and the power in their hind legs. The way this cat hauls himself up at the end is also impressive. They have strong forelegs too.

  3. kylee says:

    Yea im amazed at my cats they way they can jump different distances ozzie jumps up a rose tree to the conservatory roof which is glass. Rebel loves to jump up high spaces then meows at me.

  4. Caroline says:

    And even still, that would not explain his inability to leap such a short distance.

  5. Caroline says:

    The cat in the first gif has a problem with his hind legs; his inability to jump looks like constraints due to partial paralysis. It is not due to obesity, most likely. Something else is going on. That is not to say that he isn’t overweight. He certainly is. He may have been much heavier early on, do you conjecture that as a possibility?

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