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How Fast Can a House Cat Run? (Record & Average Speeds)

Some cats might spend more time snoozing than running, while others love to run around the house and play all day long. Whether your cat is the laidback type or has more energy than the rest of the household put together, cats are impressive athletes.

As well as being able to jump impressively high, cats are capable of running faster than you might think up to 30 miles per hour! Let’s find out more! 


Why Are Cats Able to Run Fast?

Firstly, cats are born hunters. Even though our domestic cats get all their needs met by their owners, they still retain their wild instincts. This includes the ability to run after their prey.

One of the reasons that cats sleep so much is to conserve their energy in case they need to sprint after their prey. Of course, our house cats don’t have to catch their food anymore, but the sleep-sprint pattern is still hardwired into their psyche.

european shorthair cat running
Image Credit: Pixabay

What’s the Record Speed for a House Cat?

There might not be a world record in this category, but the fastest domestic cats can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, the same speed as the world-record-holding sprinter, Usain Bolt. That’s pretty fast!

Cats can only sustain this speed over short distances. They’re definitely made for sprinting, not endurance. House cats will usually run at speed for 50-100 meters at the most, before slowing down and stopping.

The back legs of our feline friends are incredibly powerful and act as a spring to push them forward. You might notice that as your cat runs full speed, both their back legs hit the ground at the same time. This maximizes the amount of force that they can use to push off for the next stride.

Cat’s spinal columns are also able to compress as they prepare to take their next stride. This has a spring-like action, to help increase their running speed even more.

Check out this video of a house cat running, and you’ll see how the combination of powerful hind legs and flexible spine helps them reach impressively high speeds.

The anatomy of a cat’s legs has even been used as the inspiration behind the design of biped robots meant for running.

What’s the Average Speed for a House Cat?

The average speed for most house cats is around 20 miles per hour. Even cats that are famous as slower and less active breeds can reach this speed if they really had to. They’ll just leave the top speeds of up to 30 miles per hour to their faster friends!

The speed of an individual cat will be determined by their breed, fitness, health, motivation, and age.

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Fastest Cat Breeds

Sorrel abyssinian cat
Image Credit: Jane Koshchina, Shutterstock

If you’re interested in owning a super speedy cat, then these are the breeds to consider. It’s no surprise that these breeds are all lithe, athletic, and prone to be muscular.

Owning one of these cat breeds is likely to keep you busy, as they love playing, interacting with their families, plenty of running, and of course, having their every need met by you!

Slowest Cat Breeds

seal point ragdoll standing on grass
Image Credit: Pikist

At the other end of the scale, we have the slower cat breeds. Just as adorable, these cats would rather spend their day curled up in the sun taking a nap than chasing their favorite toy up and down the hallway.

Some of these slower cat breeds have flat, or brachycephalic, faces. This can compromise their airways, meaning it’s harder for them to get air into their lungs. As a result, they’re far less likely to want to run fast.

  1. Ragdoll
  2. Persian
  3. Exotic
  4. Selkirk Rex
  5. Tonkinese
  6. Russian Blue
  7. British Shorthair
  8. American Shorthair
  9. Ragamuffin
  10. Scottish Fold

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Wrapping it up

Even the slowest house cats can reach impressive speeds of up to 20 miles per hour! Some cats would rather not spend their days going that fast, but trust us, if they have to, they’re more than capable.

Other cats that are active and spend most of the day playing can easily top out at around 30 miles per hour. Given that’s the same speed as the world record for a human sprinter, that’s quite impressive.

It’s all due to a cat’s incredibly powerful back legs and flexible spines. So, the next time that your house cat is curled up next to you, take a moment to appreciate the incredible anatomy that allows them to run so fast.

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Featured Image: Pixabay