Can cats jump?

Gentle cat landing

Is the statement true: cats always land on their paws? Cats have amazing body coordination and are real acrobats. Due to their physique, cats are able to hunt and catch other, often larger or faster animals (such as birds) with comparatively little energy expenditure. Velvet paws can sneak up on other animals almost silently without being noticed, before they jump at the very last moment to grab their prey. But what does the cat landing look like after jumping or falling?

Cats need their special skill especially for hunting: the elegant fur noses can turn on their own axis while jumping. The tail flaps in the opposite direction and acts like a rudder. This so-called twisting or adjusting reflex is also used in free fall. Cats usually manage to turn around so that their legs hit the ground. Unfortunately, this refined reflex does not completely protect against injuries.

This is how the twist reflex works in cats

The turn reflex is in the cats' blood and ensures that in the event of a fall they will automatically turn from the supine position in the direction of the fall. This stimulus reaction develops as soon as the kittens start learning to walk and develop body control (around the sixth to eighth week of life). Unfortunately, cats don't always land safely on their paws. In the beginning, kittens in particular are at risk of tumbling down from a tree, cupboard or the like while playing and romping around.

When can it get dangerous?

Even adult specimens are not immune to damage:

  • If cats fall from too great a height (the impact is too violent)
  • Too low height (you don't have enough time to turn all the way around to come up at the right angle - this takes about 2-3 meters)
  • Is the landing area too hard, odd, with sharp stones, sticks or broken glass?
  • Sick or impaired cats

What does a cat landing look like in detail?

From a height of around two meters, cats can turn around their own axis in free fall. At lightning speed (less than a second) the cat rotates in the air in order to point all four legs down in time. To further soften the landing, cats hunch their backs as they fall.

If a cat falls backwards out of a window or from another high point on the ground, it automatically turns its head and front legs in the direction of the fall. Immediately the hind legs are reflexively drawn towards the body and the tail begins to steer in the air. This also positions the back of the body towards the ground. Then the cat stretches out all four legs and hunched over to cushion the impact.

What can happen and how should you react?

If your cat has fallen from a great height, it is important to go to the vet quickly. Because internal injuries are not immediately visible to you. The most common injuries after a fall are:

  • Broken jaw
  • Bleeding from the lungs
  • Various internal bleeding
  • Cleft palate
  • Broken bones (usually leg or pelvis)
  • Injured organs (usually urinary bladder, lungs, diaphragm, spleen, or liver)

In shock, injured animals can travel long distances. If your cat doesn't come home and can't be found, Pettrailers can help. The trained search dogs pick up the scent and can find missing animals.

Better safe than sorry!

Prevention includes making windows and balconies cat-proof. Cats are clever animals and often nothing happens for years until the beloved velvet paw carelessly leans too far out of the window to catch a bird flying by, for example.

Make sure you have non-slip surfaces and fix your furniture to the wall, because an accident can happen quickly. Care should be taken especially with kittens and older cats. Even animals that have already had a fall learn nothing from it.

Here the responsibility is clearly yours to protect your darling.


For the sake of your sweetheart, you should avoid unnecessary sources of danger: Even if the twist reflex lets cats land with all fours on the floor in most cases, there is no guarantee.