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Are Cats Faster Than Dogs? Understanding Your Pet


Last Updated on: May 17, 2023 by Crystal Uys

Determining whether cats or dogs are faster will largely depend on the breeds you’re talking about. However, dogs generally have an advantage over cats, as many are bred specifically for their hunting or athletic abilities.

To get the most accurate answer, we’ve measured the fastest cat breed against the fastest dog breed, and dogs are indeed faster than cats. However, cats can still outrun dogs! So, clearly, there’s more to our answer, but let’s take a look at the contenders.

The Fastest Cat and Dog Breeds

The fastest domestic cat is the Egyptian Mau. The cat’s fastest speed is 30 miles per hour (mph), and it has been referred to as the feline Greyhound. This fact hints at the fastest dog—yes, it’s the Greyhound! Its fastest speed is 45 mph. However, the fastest land animal is, in fact, a cat.1 The Cheetah can go from standing to 60 mph in an impressive 3 seconds, and its top speed is 75 mph!

To give you a better idea of how fast all these animals are in relation to one another, we’ve listed the top speeds of other animals (and a human) for reference:

Animal Top Speed
Peregrine Falcon (Fastest Bird) 242 mph
Cheetah (Fastest Land Animal) 75 mph
Sail Fish (Fastest Fish) 68 mph
Greyhound (Fastest Domesticated Dog) 45 mph
Egyptian Mau (Fastest Domesticated Cat) 30 mph
Usain Bolt (Fastest Human) 27.5 mph

The Cheetah and Greyhound run so fast because of their rotary gallop, which means that when their legs hit the ground, they do so in a circular pattern. Their hips pivot, and their tail swings, enabling them to make sudden turns even at high speeds while keeping their balance.

Cheetahs are a different genus and species from the domestic cat, so the crown for fastest between these two contenders still goes to the Greyhound.

blue russian cat running in nature
Image Credit: ddisq, Shutterstock

Can Cats Outrun Dogs?

This might seem like a strange question when we’ve just said that dogs are faster. However, cats are excellent sprinters, while dogs are better endurance runners. This means cats can go from stationary to running much faster than dogs

It also means that cats tire out faster than dogs and won’t be able to keep up with them over a long distance. Although canines have higher top speeds, felines are more maneuverable and can change directions faster.

If Dogs Are Faster, How Can Cats Outrun Them?

Cats are lean, and when it comes to running, being lean and agile is a great combination. Around 30% of a cat’s body weight comprises its skeletal muscles, compared to 50% for humans and 65% for dogs. That means cats carry less bulk and require less energy to move quickly.

Cats also don’t have as much fat as dogs, and their muscles aren’t built for endurance. Dogs have bigger leg muscles containing more mitochondria, meaning their cells convert fat into energy more efficiently when exercising.

Cats have more control over their speed and have better flexibility than dogs, which makes them better at catching small prey. You also find that the size of an animal’s heart makes a big difference in how fast it is; the larger the animal, the better it will perform in high-intensity activities, like running for long periods.

Final Thoughts

Cats aren’t as fast as dogs if we only discuss domesticated cats. If we’re looking at all contenders in the cat family, cats take the crown thanks to the Cheetah, which can reach top speeds of 75 mph. If we’re only talking about domesticated dogs and cats, dogs win the race thanks to the Greyhound, which reaches top speeds of 45 mph.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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