Do Cats Get Hurt When They Jump High?

Anatomy of Cats’ Jumping

Cats are able to jump high and land safely due to their unique anatomy that provides power, flexibility, and grip. Their powerful hind legs contain muscular thighs that allow them to propel themselves upwards when jumping. Cats have seven vertebrae in their lower backs that provide flexibility and extension for jumping and landing ( They also have non-retractable claws that allow them to grip surfaces when landing from a high jump.

A cat’s hind legs contain strong upper thighs with heavy muscles that provide the power when they leap upward. Their ankle joints can flex to over 180 degrees, providing great force for takeoff. Cats also have elongated feet and toes that give them extra lift. Their front legs help absorb impact when landing. And their flexible spine allows the front and back halves of their body to operate independently, contracting and extending as needed for jumping and landing.

So cats’ muscular hindquarters, flexible spine, grippy claws, and loose ankle joints give them the anatomy they need to safely jump at great heights and distances.

Cats’ Landing Ability

When cats fall from heights, they have a remarkable ability to land without severe injuries. This is due to several key factors that allow cats to spread out the impact and reduce forces on their body.

Cats are able to spread out the force of impact by extending their limbs during a fall. According to Wired, when falling, cats splay their legs out to increase drag and slow the fall. This allows them to spread the impact across their entire body when they hit the ground.

Cats are also able to flex and relax their legs to absorb impact when landing. BBC notes that cats’ legs act as “shock absorbers” on impact, bending to dissipate energy and reduce force. Their flexible spine also helps cushion the landing, spreading out impact instead of concentrating it in one area.

Additionally, cats are able to rotate their bodies while airborne and land on their feet, allowing them to absorb impact on their well-padded paws. They use their tail to twist their body into the proper landing position.

Thanks to their remarkable ability to spread out impact forces, flex their spine, and land on their feet, cats can often survive falls from heights that would seriously injure other animals.

Cats’ Height and Distance Jumping Records

Cats are amazing jumpers, capable of leaping several times their own height. According to, the average house cat can safely jump up to 6 times their height, or about 7-8 feet high. The world record for the highest cat jump is held by Waffle the Warrior Cat, who jumped an incredible 7 feet high in 2018 according to Guinness World Records.

For horizontal jumping, cats can safely leap 8-10 times their length from a standing start. So a typical house cat with a body length of around 24 inches could jump 6-8 feet in a single bound. More athletic breeds like the Siamese can jump over 9 feet horizontally. As long as cats have enough run-up room, they can propel themselves impressive distances thanks to their powerful hind legs.

It’s important to note that while cats are capable of spectacular height and distance jumps, owners should take care not to encourage over-exertion. Providing plenty of climbing surfaces reduces the need for risky jumps. With common sense precautions, most cats can enjoy jumping safely within their natural physical limits.

Preventing Injuries from Jumping

Cats are natural jumpers and love to leap up to high places. However, excessive jumping or landing poorly can lead to injuries for cats. There are some tips pet owners can follow to discourage over-jumping and provide safe landings for their feline friends:

Remove or cover tempting leaping spots. Take down cat towers/trees or place cushions over surfaces cats like to jump on. This reduces access to risky jump-off points. You can also place cushions or pads on the floor where cats tend to land to soften impact.

Restrict access to off-limit areas. Use baby gates or closed doors to keep cats away from counters, shelves, or other furniture they shouldn’t be jumping on. This also prevents leaping onto dangerous surfaces.

Provide approved leaping spots. Offer cat towers, scratching posts, and shelving at cat-friendly heights. Having designated jumping areas focuses activity and reduces indiscriminate leaping.

Consider a calming diffuser. Diffusers like Feliway release synthetic pheromones that promote calmness in cats. This can curb hyperactivity and cut down on excessive jumping.

Play games on the floor. Engage cats in play sessions using wand toys that encourage activity at ground level rather than upward leaps. Interactive floor play is a good jumping alternative.

Overall, focus on limiting access to risky jump spots and providing approved leaping outlets. This balances a cat’s desire to jump while minimizing potential for injury from overzealous or improper landing.

Signs of Jumping Injuries

Cats can suffer various injuries from jumping, with the most common being sprains, fractures, and arthritis. Here are the signs to look out for:


Sprains occur when ligaments, which connect bones, are stretched or torn. Signs of a sprain include (source):

  • Limping or favoring one limb
  • Swelling around a joint
  • Unwillingness to bear weight on the limb
  • Crying out in pain when the area is touched

Sprains are commonly seen in the wrists, ankles, and knees. Rest, restricting activity, cold compresses, and pain medication can help sprains heal.


Fractures are cracked or broken bones. Signs include (source):

  • Obvious deformity or abnormal bending of a limb
  • Swelling around the injured area
  • Inability or unwillingness to bear weight
  • Visible bruising around the fracture site

Fractures require veterinary care. Treatment depends on the location and severity of the fracture, and may involve casts, splints, surgery, or strict cage rest.


Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Signs include (source):

  • Reluctance to jump up or down
  • Stiffness and limping, especially after resting
  • Difficulty grooming hard-to-reach areas
  • Irritability or aggression when touched

Arthritis usually develops from old injuries or wear-and-tear on the joints. Weight management, joint supplements, medication, and exercise modifications can help manage arthritis pain.

When to See the Vet

If your cat is limping, avoiding using their leg, crying out in pain, or acting lethargic after a jump or fall, it’s time to see the vet. According to, significant changes in behavior after a jump indicate a vet visit is a good idea. However, as noted by, most sprains and strains heal within days or weeks with rest and medication.

Seek immediate veterinary care if your cat is unable to bear weight on the leg, the leg appears deformed or swollen severely, or your cat seems to be in extreme distress. According to, the vet will examine the cat, order x-rays if needed, and prescribe pain medication and rest. In severe cases, surgery may be required. The earlier treatment begins, the better chance for a quick and full recovery.

Jumping Safety for Kittens and Senior Cats

Special precautions should be taken for kittens and senior cats when it comes to jumping from heights. Kittens’ bones, joints, and muscles are still developing, so jumping from high places too young can lead to injuries and growth problems. Senior cats’ joints and bones become more brittle with age, making them prone to arthritis and fractures if they jump down from elevated surfaces.

For kittens under 6 months old, limit access to high perches like refrigerators, bookshelves, and tall cat trees. Provide steps or ramps so they can climb up and down safely without big jumps. Supervise playtime and redirect them if trying to jump from unsafe heights. Kittens should not jump down from higher than 3 feet until around 1 year old when their body is fully developed.

Senior cats over 10 years old should be limited to jumping down from less than 2 feet. Block access to high perches, provide pet steps for furniture, and don’t allow leaping on and off beds. Signs of arthritis like limping or yowling after jumping indicate jumping should be avoided. Consult a vet if concerned about mobility issues. With precautions, kittens and seniors can jump safely and build strength without undue strain.


Exercising Cats Without Jumping

While jumping is a natural behavior for cats, there are ways to exercise your cat without relying on high jumps that could lead to injury. Some alternatives to provide exercise without jumping include:

Climbing Trees and Cat Towers – Providing vertical climbing spaces like cat trees and towers allows cats to satisfy their desire to climb upwards. Quality cat towers with different levels and surfaces like sisal or cardboard let cats scratch, climb, and perch up high (Purina). Rotate toys on different levels to entice play and activity.

Interactive Toys – Wand toys, balls, and other interactive toys stimulate a cat’s natural prey drive for stalking, chasing, and pouncing. Dragging toys across the floor or dangling them above engage your cat’s interest and provide exercise without jumping (EverydayHealth).

Puzzle Feeders – Feeding your cat through puzzle toys makes them “hunt” for their food, providing mental stimulation and physical activity. Food dispensing balls or puzzle boxes give cats an outlet to play and exercise their problem-solving abilities.

Ramps and Catwalks – Linking different furniture and cat trees with ramps or walkways creates an engaging playground for cats to explore and patrol their territory, while avoiding high jumps between surfaces.

Rotating Toys – Keep cats entertained by regularly changing out toys and activities. Store some toys away and rotate them out periodically to pique your cat’s interest when they get bored.

Cats Jumping vs Other Pets

When it comes to jumping, cats have some distinct advantages over other common household pets like dogs and rabbits. According to one analysis, cats can jump up to 6 times their height, while dogs can only jump around 1.5 times their height (source).

This is due to several key differences in cats’ physiology compared to other pets:

  • Cats have very flexible spines that allow them to arch their backs and extend their legs fully when jumping (source). Dogs and rabbits have less spinal flexibility.
  • Cats have larger hind leg muscles and can harness more power from them to propel upwards.
  • Cats are lighter and more agile than dogs, which also aids their jumping.
  • Cats use their tails to balance and steer in the air.

The average cat can jump 5-7 feet high from a standing position. Champion jumping cats can leap over 8 feet high. Dogs generally top out at around 4-5 feet of jumping height.

So when it comes to feats of leaping and aerial acrobatics, cats clearly have the edge over other common household pets.

Famous Jumping Cats

Some cats have become quite famous for their incredible jumping talents and athletic feats. Videos of spectacular cat jumps often go viral online. Here are a few of the most popular celebrity jumping cats:

The Savitsky Cats are a breed known for their ability to jump extreme heights of up to 8 feet vertically. They were made famous by a viral YouTube video in 2012 showing them leaping from the floor to the top of a refrigerator. The Savitsky Cats have since appeared in commercials and movies.

Didga the skateboarding cat holds several Guinness World Records for jumping long distances while on her skateboard. She can jump over 5 feet in distance on her board. Didga has appeared on TV shows like America’s Got Talent and often performs live shows around the world.

Jumping Jupiter is a house cat that holds the record for the highest vertical jump by a domestic cat at 6 feet 4.72 inches. His athletic feats were featured in an episode of Supervet on Channel 4 in the UK.

Nga Hpe Kyaung Monastery in Myanmar was home to a troupe of jumping cats who would leap through hoops. Images of the jumping cats appeared in newspapers, books, and magazines in the early 20th century. See a historical photo here:

With their gravity-defying leaps and athletic prowess, these famous felines demonstrate just how high cats can jump when trained and motivated!

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