ANN/THE STAR – Human beings walk into a room and think in terms of floor space, or perhaps sofa seating. Cats are three-dimensional thinkers who are happiest lounging high up in the air, on bookshelves, counter tops, windowsills and stairs.
Part of their love of heights stems from a safety issue: Predators like dogs attack on the ground, so when a kitty is high up, she feels safe. They evolved to seek high spaces.
Cats are therefore superb jumpers, being able to leap six times their own height, and sometimes more. They can do so because they have incredibly well-developed muscles in their back paws, a very flexible spine, and a tail that acts as a rudder.
When a cat jumps, it does so in stages. It bunches up, tensing the strong muscles, and then unleashes them like a spring, propelling the body into the air. During the jump, the long back flexes, much like an airplane wing, and the tail acts as a balance.
Cats do need to learn to jump, and some are better at it than others. Therefore, some will calculate exactly where they will land, acting like small furry paratroopers from an elite unit, while others smash down, scrabbling to hold on, and scattering whatever is near them.
As for trying to train them out of jumping, you can try, but you’re battling nature. Your cat will never say woof, and it’s not likely that your no is going to change thousands of generations of instinct.
Practically speaking, it’s simpler to make sure that your pet’s favourite high places are accessible and to remove breakables.
Note that some cats will jump and think they will look later to see what’s beyond.
Therefore, be sure that windows leading to large drops are shut or meshed in, and build a cage around balconies.