R.H.N Smithers, of the University of Pretoria had a pet caracal. He referred to it in his book: The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (1983). He writes that as an adult she caught doves “quicker than the eye can follow”.
He said that “her reactions were very quick and she had extraordinary powers of leaping. When startled one night as she lay relaxed on the floor, she sprang up, hitting the wall with her front feet at a measured height of 3.4 meters.”
This is 11.15 feet believe it or not. Smithers also said that:
“They are fast in action and powerful, the heavily built limbs with the heavy curved claws on the front feet, especially the dew claws, capable of holding fast, once a grip is obtained.”
The caracal is probably the best feline vertical jumper. The best feline horizontal jumper is probably the mountain lion.
Another medium-sized wild cat on the African continent and arguably the world’s second best vertical jumper is the serval. It is not surprising that the serval leaps so high because this medium-sized cat has the longest limb to body size ratio of all the wild cat species. Whereas the caracal leaps with pure power, the serval also uses the physical properties of leverage.
The authors of the acclaimed book Wild Cats of the World, the Sunquists, write:
“Servals are prodigious leapers, with jumping abilities equal to those of the caracal. A single pounce may span 2 to 3 meters into the air trying to knock down a bird or an insect in flight.”