Cats can run as fast as 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour). The speed a specific cat runs is dependent on factors such as age, breed, gender, health status, and motivation. So even though the average speed is 30 miles per hour, not all cats are built the same.
If you want to know more about how fast a cat can run and the factors that affect its speed, keep on reading.
What are the factors that affect a cat’s running speed?
Cats of different ages have different physiological abilities, including running. In humans, running ability peaks in the mid-to-late 20s for most people. It can be assumed that this is the same for cats. It might take them one to two years to fully develop their brains and bodies for running, and their performance may dwindle by the time they are four years old.
The Egyptian Mau is the fastest cat breed. Other speedy breeds include the Abyssinian, Somali, Bengal, Savannah, Manx, Siamese, Ocicat, and Oriental. These breeds are high-energy with muscular, lean bodies.
On average, male cats are faster than females. This may be due to the aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and overall mechanical differences of their bodies.
4. Health status
Cats that are sick or injured will be less physically capable of reaching top running speed than healthy cats.
Cats are great at hiding their illnesses and injuries, so if your cat normally likes to run around the house but is suddenly less active, monitor it closely and take it to the vet.
Cats in a life or death situation will be much more motivated to reach top speeds than cats that are chasing toys around the house.
How a cat walks vs. how it runs
Cats have a pacing gait which allows them to keep their paws in a straight line, also referred to as the catwalk. This is how they can keep balanced on narrow walkways and spaces.
As your cat speeds up, the pacing gait turns into a diagonal gait. This happens when two diagonal legs move at the same time, allowing your cat to move faster. It is a two-beat gait that involves the right front leg followed quickly by the left rear leg, then left front leg followed by the right rear leg.
At full running speed, your cat will transition to galloping from the diagonal gait. It is a single-beat movement that lets your cat move faster.
Are cats faster than humans?
If your cat is in good condition and depending on its breed, it could easily beat Usain Bolt in a sprinting challenge.
Most cat owners cannot catch their cats when they escape. That is proof enough that cats are indeed faster than humans. To be fair, cats have a four-legged advantage.
One thing that makes cats faster than humans is their flexible bodies. Even domesticated cats have more flexible spines than humans, so they find it easier to move.
Cats have claws that let them dig through the ground for added leverage. It is like wearing cleats, but it is natural traction.
But can a human outrun a cat? Yes, if the cat is out of shape and old. In long-distance running, humans have an edge due to better endurance. Cats are fast sprinters but they are not built for endurance.
It is not ideal to make your cat run long distances at a fast pace, because their heart rate may reach dangerous levels.
Are house cats faster than dogs?
In the wild, the world’s fastest cat is faster than the fastest dog. But most domesticated dogs are much faster than cats, especially if they are much bigger.
Greyhounds can run at an average of 44 miles per hour due to their build and minimal body fat that makes them lighter and more suitable for running.
Most house cats can run at a rate of 30 miles per hour, so they can outrun some dog breeds.
How fast can cats run away from predators?
Cats have bursts of energy that allow them to escape predators. They are strategic animals, so they will use their ability to sprint to hide and evade an attack. They are also great climbers and they often use this advantage to escape easily.
If a cat is being chased in an open area, they will struggle to elude a predator due to lack of endurance. But if the predator is considerably slower than your cat, the cat can escape unscathed.
How fast can a cat run for long distances?
Cats are sprinters, but their speed over a distance is hampered by their natural design.
In the modern age, cats have little reason to run fast for distances more than a few yards. Even when faced with a predator, most cats choose to hide or climb rather than run away.
Why do cats run around like crazy?
You may notice that your cat gets sudden bursts of energy and runs full speed all around the house. This is also called the “zoomies.”
Cats are ambush predators and will spend most of the day resting to conserve their energy. House cats do not do much hunting, so these zoomies are their way of blowing off their pent-up energy.
If your cat likes to run around like this at night, tire them out during the day by playing with them. This will encourage them to just curl up at night instead of causing a racket.
Another reason why your cat is running around the house is because there are other animals. If your cat is running around the house at night, it is possible that they found rats or mice and are stalking or chasing them. If your cat is running from one window to another, they probably see an animal outside, like a raccoon or a squirrel.
Cats can run at a rate of 30 miles per hour. The speed of a specific cat is dependent on its age, breed, gender, health status, and motivation.
Cats are not faster than some dog breeds like the greyhound. This is because they are not built to be endurance runners. Cats use their quick sprint to evade predators and find a place to hide.
Cats like to run around (“zoomies”) because they do not get to expend their pent-up energy through hunting, like their wild cousins. So they release energy by running around the house. They could also be running around at night because they are chasing rats or mice.
Image: istockphoto.com / andreaskrappweis