Wednesday, May 15, 2024

How Fast Can A House Cat Run? 3 Surprising Facts

The question, ‘How Fast Can A House Cat Run?’ is intriguing, especially to cat owners. Today, let’s talk about speed. The thrill of going fast, with a breeze hitting your face while doing so. Humans love speed and they have been making progress in this matter in the form of faster cars, trains, planes, and rockets.

But when it comes to humans running to their top speed, there is only one Usain Bolt (yes, that Usain Bolt. The fastest recorded person on Earth) that can reach a speed of 29.5 miles per hour, or around 47.52 kilometers per hour if you are outside the US. The rest of us mortals can’t go that fast.

Animals can just be this fast, or even faster. The faster big cat, the cheetah, with a top recorded speed of 68 miles per hour (109 KPH) with a super-fast acceleration that can be compared to the ones on supercars.

So, what about our little domestic cats? How fast can a cat run? How fast can the average house cat run? Let’s find out.

cat hiding under the crib

How Fast Can A House Cat Run?

With that pedigree that a big cat like the cheetah, you would expect to be very fast, right? Well, how fast a cat can go?

Domestic cats are very fast felines that can go almost half the speed of their bigger brother, the cheetah, at around 30 miles per hour (or around 48 kilometers per hour). This kind of speed is very similar to the top speed a professional athlete like Usain Bolt can go. It is quite impressive for a furry, tiny creature.

However, that top speed can only be achievable in short bursts and for minimal times, just like in the cheetah. They would use all the available energy in very tiny bursts to get their objectives (a moving prey, a toy, or even laser lights).

How can cats go fast?

Many features in cats can make them go fast. Most of them are based on just the physiology of the cat itself compared to other species.

The cat’s flexible spine is one of the biggest weapons in that ballistic speed. That spine a works just like a coil spring. It compresses when the cat is going for it and releases, extending completely and making the cat look like it is flying.

A big part that continues the spine’s flexible action is how the cats use their legs and the muscles on them. When a cat is going for a run, you will see the two back legs going forward, making the spine arch, and then the force would propel the cat forward, moving the front legs to the front again and repeating the process.

You can only see this happening with all the details with a slow-motion camera. There would be even some moments when all the cat’s four legs would go in the air. And that’s inherited from the bigger cats and millions of years of evolution.

How high a cat can jump?

Now, switching from moving horizontally to going upwards vertically is something that cats have in their book of tricks. So, how high a cat can jump?

Your normal human (the ones that are not athletes) can jump to a height between 16 to 20 inches (or around 0.5 meters maximum), while the super ones can go as high as 8 feet (or over 2.43 meters) while doing acrobatics. It is very high for any cat to match, but you have to remember that cats are tiny in size by comparison.

However, that doesn’t stop them from going as high as 5 feet or more (1.5 meters or more) all while being stationary. That can be like 7 times its overall height!

All of this has a close relation to their marvelous spine too and the way it can compress and then release like a spring. That spring-like action from the spine, and the way the cat prepares itself for the jump (you can see it when they get their legs closer, especially the back ones) are the main reasons why cats can literally “lift-off” from the ground.

How agile are cats?

Like most felines, cats are very agile. You need to think of them like little athletes, even when they are sleeping. Surprised about that last fact?

Cats can go in pursuit of a mouse, the light from a laser, a ball, or any other toy and other pets in short bursts. The acceleration is explosive and they can maintain the speed for little periods before they would need to take a rest.

When you see a healthy cat taking a nap, don’t think that it is just a lazy animal. They are recovering energy for the next chase, the next jump, or the next exercise. The way they take off is so volatile that it can deplete them from energy and they would need a moment to be able to run again. Napping for a cat to recover energy is actually like charging a phone battery to 100%.

Cats are really like little sprinters, the ones that go ballistically like Usain Bolt for short periods. They are not like marathonists who can run at a slower speed but for a longer time.


So, there you have it. How Fast Can A House Cat Run? When someone sees your cat going at crazy speed while chasing something and asks you how fast can a cat run, you can tell them: Very fast! It can be even faster than you can be.

Their enhanced and flexible spine is the one part that allows that speed to be possible, alongside their paws and legs going back and forth in a motion that looks like it is flying when you see it in slow motion. When talking about a number, that speed can go as high as 30 miles per hour, definitely faster than most humans.

And that’s not only the main benefit that a flexible spine allows. Due to that flexibility, the spine can allow the cat to jump over 7 times its size in certain circumstances, something so impressive for a little cat that isn’t bigger than 2 feet. Just wow!

Serina Russow
Serina Russow
Hey there, I'm Serina, your friendly feline fanatic! As the proud founder of "Smart cat lovers," I'm on a mission to share my passion for all things cat-related. With years of experience in cat behavior and health, I'm here to provide expert advice on nurturing happy, healthy kitties. When I'm not tapping away on my keyboard, you'll find me curled up with my four adorable furballs: Whiskers, Luna, Billy, and Charlie.

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