By Dr. Becker
Some cats are known for their ability to find the softest, sunniest spot in the house… in which to promptly lay down for an hour-long nap. Other cats, however, are known more for their impressive athletic prowess.
In fact, while dogs are most often thought of as the best pet for active, athletic people, cats can be remarkably agile and athletic too. While they don't always land on their feet, you have to admit they’re able to pull off some ninja-worthy moves nonetheless.
Your cat has an innate “righting” instinct that allows him to reflexively correct his position while he falls so his feet hit first. Cats also have a flexible backbone that helps them to right themselves during falls.1
Cats are so impressive with their seemingly gravity-defying moves that NASA partly funded a study to analyze mathematically the movement of a falling cat. They believed gaining insight into the “falling cat phenomenon” could help them develop maneuvers to help astronauts orient their bodies in space.2,3
If you’re looking for a kitty to add to your home, and you want one that will prefer being on the move to lying on your lap, check out the list below. Vet Street has compiled a list of the fastest and most athletic cat breeds on the planet, which are sure to impress you with their speed, dexterity, and more.4
The 9 Fastest Cat Breeds
1. Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau can run up to 30 miles per hour (mph), which is faster than any other domestic cat breed in the world. His speed, combined with powerful leg strength, allows him to catapult onto high-up places, like your shoulder, without hesitation.
Abyssinians are active cats that love to be on the move. Because of their high energy levels and intelligence, you’ll need to occupy your Abyssinian with food puzzles, daily exercise, and even training for tricks and agility.
Somalis are long-haired versions of Abyssinians. They have similarly impressive athletic abilities combined with muscular bodies and strong legs. Somalis often enjoy trick training, agility, and even walking on a leash.
Bengals love to play and be on the move. They’re also very demanding of your attention and may do whatever it takes to get it. Bengals may find a way to climb to the highest reaches in your home, often enjoy playing fetch, and are not the type of cat to want to lounge on your lap all day long.
The Savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, which is a medium-sized wild African cat with large ears. Savannahs will climb as high as they can go, and their long bodies and legs allow them to reach places you might think are unreachable. Savannahs are known for being very curious, highly intelligent, and extremely athletic.
The Manx cat is an ancient breed most known for its lack of a tail. (Manx’s can actually be completely tailless, have a stump of varying lengths, or a regular tail a bit shorter than the average cat tail.) Despite this, the Manx is fast, agile, and athletic. As Vet Street noted:5
“He can jump and accelerate through the house like there’s no tomorrow. Watch for his sharp turns and quick stops – you’ll think he’s a mini sports car in the shape of a cat.”
Siamese cats are active, playful, and demanding. Her high intelligence can drive her to mischief, like turning on sink faucets, opening cabinets, and finding incredibly inventive hiding spots. To keep her entertained, go with puzzle toys, clicker training, and even agility training.
Ocicats were bred from Abyssinians, Siamese, and American Shorthairs, which resulted in a large, muscular cat known for speed and agility. In addition to their athleticism, Ocicats are very social and live to be involved with their owners.
Orientals are long, svelte kitties that tend to be very loyal to one person. They’re demanding and need lots of attention, exercise, and playtime. If she doesn’t get enough stimulation, she’ll probably entertain herself by opening drawers and getting into other mischief.
Check Your Local Shelter and Rescues for Your Next Pet Family Member
According to the Humane Society of the United States, around 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the US simply because they’re unable to find good homes.6
If you’re looking for an especially athletic and agile kitty, the volunteers at your shelter will be able to fill you in (to some extent) on each cat’s personality and quirks. You’ll find cats that love to climb, play fetch, and even learn tricks, and the adoption fee will be significantly lower than you’d pay for a cat from a breeder.
If you have your heart set on a specific breed, please consider a rescue organization. There are rescue organizations for virtually every cat breed you can imagine, and some have systems in place to match and rehome pets even with owners that live across the country.