Most people don’t know just how fast cats actually are. The modern domesticated cat is descended from some of the fastest animals on the planet. 

You might be surprised to learn how quick the feline that races around your house really is.

What is a Cat’s Maximum Speed?

Your average domestic house cat can run up to 30 miles per hour, though it rarely gets the opportunity. Unless you live in a very large house, you’ll probably never witness your feline friend’s full speed capabilities.

Keep in mind that a cat is only capable of maintaining such a remarkable speed for short distances. These animals are fast sprinters, but they slow down the longer they run.

Most house cats never reach their maximum speed, partially because they simply don’t have the motivation. You will usually only see these animals run as fast as they possibly can when they are trying to avoid predators.

Domestic Cats vs. Big Cats

As fast as domestic cats are, they are nothing compared to their big cat cousins. The cheetah is known for being the fastest land animal on the planet, with a top speed of over 70 miles per hour. While your cat is descended from much larger and faster ancestors, it isn’t even half as quick. The only big cat that is slower than the house cat is the tiger, which has a top speed of about 24 miles per hour.

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Cats vs. Humans

There is no question that a vast majority of cats can outrun just about any person. Even the fastest person on earth (Usain Bolt) has a maximum running speed of just under 28 miles per hour.

fast runnung cat

Are Cats Faster Than Dogs?

Cats are not always faster than dogs, as it largely depends on the breed of each animal. For example, a Greyhound dog could easily outrun almost any domestic cat. Conversely, there are plenty of dog breeds that are far slower than the average cat.

Why Are Cats so Fast?

The remarkable speed of cats can be attributed to good old evolution. These animals use their speed in the wild to escape a variety of predators. This is a physical trait that has served them well for thousands of years. While they might not be very large or powerful, they are quite fast. A cat’s speed is one of their most effective defense mechanisms, along with their claws.

Cats have strong hind legs that propel them forward very quickly. This means that they can accelerate to amazing speeds in a matter of just seconds. They also have a flexible spine, which helps a lot when it comes to running extremely fast. When a cat gets ready to start running, their spine contracts and then expands as they burst into motion.

When a cat gets ready to run, they start with their hind legs, and then their front legs. They take big and graceful leaps, covering fairly large distances in a single bound.

cat runnung in a garden

Factors that Affect a Cat’s Speed

There are multiple factors that can affect the speed of a cat. This is why there is so much variation between felines when it comes to how fast they can run.

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1. Age

Older cats are understandably slower than younger ones. As a cat gets older, they are more likely to get injured, sick, or develop physical limitations.

These animals can run pretty fast from a fairly young age. A cat is generally considered to be in prime physical shape by the time it is four or five years old.

2. Activity Level

Some cats are naturally more energetic and hyperactive than others. The top speed of your cat largely depends on its overall activity level. If you have a kitty that lazes around most of the time, it probably isn’t as quick as one that is more active.

Cats can often be deceiving when it comes to how fast they can run. Just because your cat likes to nap doesn’t mean it can’t easily beat you in a foot race. A big part of the reason why these animals nap so much is to conserve their energy. After all, it takes a lot of energy to sprint at such impressive speeds.

3. Breed

There are certain cat breeds that are known for running faster than others. The Egyptian Mau is one of the fastest domestic cats in the world. The Abyssinian, Manx, and Bengal cats are also known for being unbelievably quick and agile.

4. Sex

On average, male cats are a bit faster than female cats. This is most likely because males are stronger than females. The stronger a cat’s hind legs, the faster it can run.

5. Agility

Cats are undeniably fast animals, but they are also very agile. These animals can accelerate and stop on a dime when necessary. They are also talented at changing direction and jumping from one platform to another while in a full sprint.

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The highly flexible nature of these cats is a big part of why they are so fast and agile. This is definitely one of the most graceful animals on the planet.

Conclusion

  • The maximum speed of a domestic house cat is 30 miles per hour.
  • Most house cats never reach their full speed, as they lack both the space and motivation.
  • The average house cat is nowhere near as fast as most big cats, such as cheetahs and lions.
  • Cats are much faster than the average human.
  • There are numerous dog breeds that are much faster than cats, such as the Greyhound.
  • These animals are capable of running so fast due to their flexible spine and powerful hind legs.
  • Many years of evolution has allowed cats to run quickly as a means of escaping predators.
  • The age, breed, and activity level of your cat affects how fast it can run.
  • Cats are not only very quick but also agile creatures.
  • Male cats can usually run faster than female cats.
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