How high could I jump if my legs were as powerful as a house cat's hind legs?

Watching my three cats, I’ve noticed that they can, with little effort, jump as high as 4 or 5 feet, from standing still (no running jumps).

Obviously, their hind legs are mighty powerful. Now let’s say you transferred that kind of power to me, a guy who is 6’1". How high would I be able to jump? Would it be the same ratio with respect to a typical house cat’s height? In other words, if a typical house cat is 13 inches tall and can jump up to maximum of 6 feet, would it be the same 6/1 ratio for me? Meaning I could jump around 36 feet in the air? Or would my biology make it different?

About as high as a house cat, assuming that your torso and upper body were shrunk to the size of a house cat along with your legs.

If your cat’s legs were scaled up to human size, they would have about human strength, although they would not be very well adapted to standing erect.

The square/cube relationship would destroy any magical advantage. The strength of a muscle varies roughly with the cross sectional area, a square function. It’s weight with the total volume, a cube function. You get heavier faster than you get stronger, if you scale up.

Elephants dance ponderously, if at all.


I think it’d be much less. A cat uses the whole body to jump by curling up into a tight ball and then suddenly extending their whole body. Humans do it too but it’s not quite as effective, since our upper body isn’t as flexible.

Tris: You’ve misunderstood the question.

Let me rephrase: If human legs had the same power-to-weight ratio as cat’s legs, how high would we jump?

Rather than try to scale a house-cat’s strength up to human size, you’re better off finding a cat about as big as a human. Jaguars and cougars can get pretty close to human weight, and proportionately, they’re quite similar to domestic cats.

As far as I know, no animal on Earth can jump 36 feet straight up. I tried googling “jaguar leap” but kept getting lists of special moves for one-on-one fighting games, car stunts and whatnot.

Well you’d have to use some kind of magical muscle that doesn’t and pretty much can’t exist.

“Watching my three cats, I’ve noticed that they can, with little effort, jump as high as 4 or 5 feet, from standing still (no running jumps).”

I doubt that. There is an upper limit on how far any animal can jump, and it’s about 2 feet IIRC. Any ability to clear higher objects involves scrambling or, as in the case of human high jumpers, shifting the centre of gravity. Your cat might be able to clear 4 feet from a standing start by lifting 2 feet, stretching up to 4 and then pivoting around the obstacle, but they can’t really ‘jump’ 4 feet.

Since their ability relies entirely on their ability to twist in the air you wouldn’t gain any ability from having catlike muscles in a human body.

Anyone else get the impression the OP is writing a comic-book story about a character who gets bitten by a radioactive cat?

Sure, he can leap 30 feet and see in the dark, but he keeps coughing up hairballs at social functions!

Blake: I don’t think that’s correct. This page says:

16 feet seems rather excessive if they can only jump 2 feet above body length. Lions and tigers weigh at least as much as a large man and often much more.

We’re talking 200 to 300 kg (450 to 650 lb) here. That’s in the really, really, really large man territory.

Blake that definitely isn’t correct - domestic cats routinely leap almost vertically from a ‘coiled’ position on the ground to the top of standard 6ft fence posts, without any scrabbling or juxtaposition of limbs.

That site only gives a height for a cage wall. It doesn’t say whether the cats jump these walls without scrambling up them. A cat can easily scramble up even a brick wall

Can I have a reference for that?

Desmostylus: Ahh, well…

I’d originally said “much more than a man” but then realised that no doubt some pedant would correct me…this being GQ and all… :wink:

If this were any other message board, someone would invariably be asking… “How high could I get if I was a cat?”.

Knowing that, I thank whatever Gods that may be for my incomparable Straight Dope.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d have to agree with Trisk.

Although, I’d love to learn the Jaguar Leap move Ekers speaks of.


I’ll try to find something online for you, but I’ve seen it hundreds of times; domestic cats and 6ft timber fences are very common in this country.

OK, I’ve got a timber wall at one end of my deck that’s 1.75 m (5’9") high. One of my cats, when quite a bit younger that he is now, misjudged the height and sailed right over the top, landing on the roof of the car in the driveway.

That was from a standing start, definitely no scrambling involved.

At this site:

That’s a lot more than 2 feet…

Actually, I think it is this assertion that needs to be backed up.

Pfft. Big deal. I once played 18 holes of golf with a deer carcass in my mouth.

To Bill Brasky!

Hey, dylan_73, your cite on the height of zoo walls says:

Those guys obviously ain’t seen one of these (nice pics in this link, BTW):