It’s no secret that cats are expert jumpers. Cats have lean bodies and powerful back legs, enabling them to leap great heights with grace and accuracy. They’re well known for climbing trees and other high spaces and make it look easy. But surprisingly, dogs can also jump quite high.
Cats can jump 6 times their height, which equates to around 6-8 feet. Dogs have a maximum jumping height of around 6 feet, but only the most agile breeds will make this leap. Cats have superior jumping skills because of their lithe frame and strong hind legs. Dogs are engineered for endurance and, as a species, are much heavier than cats. This makes it harder for them to jump as high as their feline counterparts.
Cats and dogs are often pitted against each other. While both are much-loved family pets, they are genetically very different from each other and have opposing strengths and weaknesses.
How High Can Cats Jump?
A journal on Petozy confirms that cats can jump 6 times their body length vertically, meaning that they can jump 6-8 feet high. To add context, the world record for the highest human jump is just over 8 feet.
The Journal of Experimental Biology reports that the length of a cat’s limbs and the muscle mass of its back legs give a cat superior jumping abilities. Though, cats with a higher fat percentage won’t be able to jump as high.
To begin a jump, a cat will go down into a deep crouch before lifting its front legs and exploding with the back legs to launch itself into the air.
How High Can Dogs Jump?
Depending on their breed and health, dogs can jump as high as 6 feet into the air. Small dogs with shorter legs can only jump a short distance from the ground.
Larger dogs with longer, more muscular legs can clear fences and other obstacles. Some pet dogs are even able to escape from fenced-off yards by hopping over them.
Young, healthy dogs will have a better chance of jumping high off from the ground. Even dog breeds known for being good jumpers will struggle if they’re old or in poor health. And if a dog isn’t able to clear the obstacle completely, it may be able to climb the last few inches to pull itself up, similar to the way cats do.
Owners shouldn’t encourage their dogs to jump too high as they are less agile than cats and are more prone to injury. Many dogs hurt their legs by jumping on or off obstacles that are too high because their limbs are less able to absorb the impact of jumping.
Do Cats or Dogs Jump Higher?
Cats and dogs are genetically different. Dogs are powerful creatures with high levels of endurance. They’ve evolved from wolves – an alpha predator that hunts in packs to find, catch and kill their prey.
As a result, dogs have strong jaws and broad shoulders. They also had few predators to worry about in the wild, meaning they never needed to find ways to escape.
As a species, dogs are not the right build for jumping high. They’re too heavy and don’t possess the ideal body composition. Dogs are also more prone to injury, as their spines aren’t as flexible as cats.
Dogs find it hard to correct themselves while they are in the air. Some breeds of dogs, like the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd, are considered expert jumpers.
Cats have fast-twitch muscle fibers that make them quick and reactive. They get their impressive leaping skills from their wild feline ancestors, who relied on hunting to survive. Jumping was part of their hunting technique and allowed them to catch small animals and birds that tried to escape.
So, while dogs are known to be the more robust, powerful animal, most cats can jump higher due to their agile build and strong hind legs.
Why Can Cats Jump So High?
Cats have evolved over thousands of years to be quiet, agile predators. They’ve also had to evade predators themselves. Cats have become skilled at jumping up trees by chasing small prey animals and running away from larger predators.
Cats’ ability to leap is mostly due to their back legs. They’re powerful and act as a spring when a cat is ready to jump. The hind legs are more powerful than the front legs. There’s not much bone density in them either, which gives cats their superior jumping skills.
The spine is also an essential part of a cat’s jumping prowess. A cat’s spine has 53 vertebrae, giving it increased flexibility. There are also elastic discs between the vertebrae, which cushions their landing.
As mentioned, cats have quick-twitch muscle fibers. This means that if a predator or threat is nearby, they can respond quickly and jump several feet within seconds to escape.
What Determines How High a Cat Can Jump?
While cats can leap higher than dogs, certain factors prevent them from reaching great heights. These include:
- Age. A cat’s jumping ability peaks at around the age of one when the animal is in peak physical condition.
- Height. Longer breeds of cats can jump higher, as a cat can jump 6 times its body length.
- Breed. Some cat breeds are more adept at jumping than others. Bengals are agile cats that are the perfect shape and size to reach greater heights. Most Persians, in contrast, are clumsy jumpers.
Which Cat Breeds Jump the Highest?
While most cats have the remarkable ability to jump at least 6 feet high, some breeds boast superior athletic skills that allow them to leap higher than most other domestic cats.
The Egyptian Mau
Known for their agility, the Egyptian Mau is capable of running up to 30mph. This makes it the fastest domestic cat breed in the world. Its formidable legs allow it to propel itself to high perches, like your shoulder, with ease.
With bundles of energy, this athletic breed rarely sits still. Abyssinians are expert hunters and can easily jump 6 feet into the air. Due to their kitten-like nature, Abyssinians need constant entertainment.
Somali cats are the long-haired variety of Abyssinians. They have a slim, muscular body and strong legs that allow them to leap high into the air. Somali cats need entertainment through access to high perches and climbing trees.
Bengals are always on the go. They love to sneak around and climb high places where they can see what’s going on around them. They’re beautiful cats with striking, leopard-like markings and a lithe, muscular body. They will demand interaction with their owners, jumping on worktops and other restricted areas for attention.
Remarkably, Savannah cats can leap 8 feet into the air from a standing position. Due to their inquisitive nature, they love to jump on high cabinets and doors to watch the world go by. A cross between a serval and a domestic cat, they have retained many of their wild qualities.
Which Dog Breeds Jump the Highest?
There are a small number of dog breeds that can jump high as cats. Some are working dogs, while others have a natural ability to jump high. Consequently, they are often selected to perform at dog shows. With training, they can become expert show jumpers.
Also known as the Australian sheepdog, this breed is used for rounding up livestock, including sheep, goats, and cattle. They have muscular limbs and a long tail, which provides excellent balance. In 2016, a female Kelpie named Nimble broke the world record for dog high jumping, scaling a large 2.95m purpose-built wall.
Despite the name, Australian Shepherds hail from the Western United States. They’re primarily used for herding livestock but love to jump over obstacles and play games of fetch, including Frisbee. Australian Shepherds are notorious for jumping up at people. This is unwanted behavior can be prevented with training.
The Border Collie is a fun, energetic breed. They’re also obedient dogs, so they can be easily trained to jump over obstacles and through hoops.
A herding dog, Border Collies do well in sports too because of their agility and jumping prowess. Though, they often escape their yards or compounds by jumping over fences.
Devoted and loyal, the German Shepherd is one of the most common working dogs in the world. They’re versatile and easy to train, making them one of the most popular dog breeds within the forces.
They are full of boundless energy and often jump up at people as a way of greeting them. They will also jump out of aggression to protect their familiars from danger. But because German Shepherds are so energetic, they may jump over fences out of boredom.
Jack Russel Terriers
While only small, Jack Russel terriers can jump as high as 5 feet. As hunting dogs in the wild, they will run long distances to catch their prey and even waited days burrowed underground for their prey to emerge.
They’re athletic dogs with bundles of energy, which allows them to jump over fences if they’re in a mischievous mood. And because they’re fast, they can prove hard to catch.
How to Stop Your Cat from Jumping?
Cats love to explore their environment. They will climb trees, survey their new territory, and seek out new vantage points. While outdoors exploring, this is usually fine for cat owners.
But when cats start jumping on the worktops or other places around the house you don’t want them to, you might need to set some rules and boundaries.
Discourage Your Cat from Certain Areas
Placing obstacles on areas that your cat likes to jump onto will help your pet understand that they are a no-go zone. Lightweight items, like tin foil or baking sheets, may prevent your cat from attempting to jump.
Tin foil will feel unpleasant under your cat’s feet and is likely to deter your cat from jumping up altogether.
Create Noise Repellents
Conceal yourself from your cat’s view and as it’s about to jump, make a loud noise. This should stop it from leaping. Don’t make too much noise as you want to create enough sound to cause a deterrent.
A sound that is too loud may hurt your cat’s ears and even traumatize them. In time, your cat will learn that this noise means no, and it should stop jumping onto the forbidden surface.
Offer Your Cat Alternative Jumping Platforms
Don’t stifle a cat’s natural jumping behavior. Get a large cat tree or scratching post, and choose furniture with a platform at the top that allows your cat to jump from a standing position.
Cat condos that feature shelves and other resting platforms are another good way to encourage your cat to jump away from forbidden areas. Also, placing it somewhere where your cat can gaze outdoors will appeal to cats who seek areas that give them an outside view.
Cats and dogs are completely different genetically. An interesting analogy that describes how their genetic make-up differs is that cats are better at sprinting, while dogs are better at running marathons. This can be applied to jumping, too, as cats use a short, explosive action to jump, reaching greater heights than dogs.