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Cat Agility is Fun for You

AND your Cat

Cat agility is not the same as dog agility. It is better! It has more possibilities because of cats' unique abilities:

  • Cats are fast. They are natural sprinters, so it is exciting to watch cats do agility. House cats can run at top speeds of around 30 miles (48 km) per hour. This is a comparable maximum running speed to those of white tail deer, warthogs and grizzly bears. It is also the top speed achieved by track star Usain Bolt, like in this video.

  • Cats are excellent jumpers. The average housecat can jump 6x its height.  Dogs 1x.  Humans only 1/4x.

  • Cats learn quickly. They have a very long short-term environmental memory of 16 hours for cats, compared to 10 minutes for dogs (this makes sense, because dogs are essentially travelers who leave an area behind, while cats are colony animals with about a square mile of home territory they need to be familiar with). Once cats have learned the course, they sometimes will do a clean run by themselves.​  Often the fasted timed clean runs at cat shows are on Sunday morning, when the cats are fresh and remember what they learned on Saturday.

  • Cats have excellent short-distance visual focus and accuracy (so do foxes), because they are low to the ground, and need to pounce onto prey.  ​​

  • Dogs are pack animals who take orders and do the obstacles only as ordered by the handler.  Domestic cats have a colony social structure, which means they have friends and co-operative relationships.  As their friends, cats can learn from us how we want them to negotiate each obstacle.​​  Cats do agility because it pleases them, not their masters.


  • Cats have exceptional insight learning skills. This means we encourage them with practice to figure out the way to accomplish the obstacles. For instance, leaping three hurdles at one time.

  • Cats can also learn "send-away" directional instructions in their first half hour in the ring; I have seen this several times, and Panther's whole learning process from first stepping into the agility ring to learning the obstacles and send-away was videotaped in Costa Mesa 2016 by the Pet Expo's publicity department for use in next year's promotions.

Panther is a house cat who was available for adoption from a local rescue group. He won the top prize for the weekend, $125, sponsored by Dr. Elsey's Kitty Litter, which Panther donated to his shelter.  During Panther's several encore runs in front of hundreds of spectators, he actually improved on his winning time, blowing away the competition. 

Turkish Angora doing Cat Agility jumping over hurdle

​"Crackers loved the agility ring so much he was pawing the air to get back in there whenever he came back into the agility room!"       ​- Cindy C.

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