Cat Facts, Cat Behaviour

How Fast can A House Cat Run? 3 Surprising Facts

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The question, ‘How Fast can A House Cat Run?’ is really 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 doing 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 hours 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 being a 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 like 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.


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?

The domestic cats are very fast felines that can go almost half the speed 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 very limited 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?

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

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

A big part that continues the spine flexible action it is the way 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 basically inherited from the bigger cats and millions of years of evolution.

How high a cat can jump?

Now, switching from moving horizontally to go upwards vertically is something that cats have on 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 got to remember that cats are tiny in size by comparison. 

However, that doesn’t stop them to go 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 have 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 to 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 are able to go in a pursuit of a mouse, the light from a laser, a ball or any other toy and other pets in short bursts. The acceleration is really explosive and they can maintain the speed for little periods of time, before they would need to take a rest.

When you see a healthy cat taking a nap, don’t think for a second that it is just a lazy animal. In fact, they are actually 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 recovering 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 of time. They are not like marathonists that can run in a slower speed but for longer time. 


So, there you have it. How Fast can A House Cat Run? When someone see your cat going at crazy speed while chasing something and ask 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 actually flying when you see it on 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 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!

Here’s a video on How Fast can A House Cat Run?

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