If you’ve ever seen the movie Zootopia, then you know that coyotes can run really fast-fast enough to chase down rabbits and small rodents and nab them before they even know what hit them. Now, if only that were true in real life.
Luckily, we don’t have to rely on the fictional stories of Disney to get answers to this question; there are plenty of facts out there! So which animal can run faster, cats or coyotes? Read on to find out.
Can Cats Run Faster Than Coyotes?
Yes, cats can run faster than coyotes. This is largely due to the differences in the muscles of their respective hind legs, as well as their hunting tactics. Coyotes have short hauls and high stride frequency, which allows them to maintain a high speed over a long distance.
They use this method of running to hunt down rabbits and other prey. Conversely, cats have long hauls and low stride frequency, which makes them better suited for short, fast bursts of speed (Mendelsohn).
Why Do We Need to Know About Animal Speed?
Can felines outrun canines? It’s a question that has likely crossed many an animal lover’s mind at one point or another.
After all, while we all know dogs love running and most of us have heard urban legends about feral house cats terrorizing towns across America, it is less commonly known whether cats really are more nimble and able to evade predators more effectively than their canine counterparts.
Even if we assume (for our purposes) that cat domestication hasn’t altered house cat speeds and limits as much as is sometimes assumed, what do cat speeds look like when compared to other mammals of similar size – particularly small-to-medium-sized predators like coyotes?
Given how relevant these questions are to both science nerds, pet owners, and biology students alike, let’s find out!
To understand which animals run faster and escape predators more effectively in real-life scenarios, there are three key factors we need to consider:
Body Masses: Animals with larger bodies will usually be slower.
Momentum: It is just harder to control and harder to change direction as quickly as smaller animals.
Aerodynamics: The sleekness of an animal’s body is a huge factor in how quickly it can accelerate to top speed.
Therefore, although small house cats may not weigh much individually, their cat-shaped bodies make them more aerodynamic than many common large mammalian prey species.
How Much Faster Is a Cat Versus a Coyote in Short Distances?
A coyote can run up to 45 miles per hour in short distances. A cat can also reach 45 miles per hour for very short periods of time (i.e., a few seconds).
However, due to their large size and general body shape, both animals run slower over longer distances.
Using averages from various sources on wild and domestic species alike, it’s estimated that an average running cat could only reach 25 miles per hour over longer distances.
That puts them below a pack of wolves (speeds of 35-45 mph) and well below most canine breeds 30-35 mph. Coyotes are generally slower than dogs by about 10 mph.
Typically speaking, coyotes have lower top speeds than domestic dogs-but they can maintain high-speed bursts for long.
The ability to sustain high-speed sprints is important when trying to outrun predators or prey.
When taking into account what they’re typically preyed upon, these animals would need quick bursts of speed in order to escape larger predators like lions and tigers that hunt in groups.
However, these heavier mammals would struggle with sustaining those burst speed abilities compared to smaller wildcats and canine breeds who live solitary lifestyles.
Domestic cats don’t exactly get much practice sprinting across vast fields, but they still possess some abilities found within feline relatives like cheetahs, who regularly engage in pursuits as part of life as a hunter-gatherer.
Most people probably don’t think about it too much, but it would seem that in terms of pure athletic prowess and evolutionary design, a cat should be able to outrun a small dog. But can they really? As with most things in life – there is more than one way to look at it.
Even though they can run at fast speeds – they still have all of their extra weight (fur and fat).
On top of that, some cat species are heavier, which makes running at high speeds more difficult for them.
This means when you compare an average-sized cat to an average-sized coyote, guess who comes up on top?
Not only does a larger body mean slower acceleration – but also hard for your pets to stop and change directions!
If you want results from your pet, use treat training as soon as possible. Don’t let your pet get into bad habits such as jumping on people’s backs, pulling on leashes, etc.
Fastest Animal on Land in General: Cats vs. Coyote
In a straight-up sprint from a dead stop on flat ground, it’s hard to outrun a hunting dog-like wolf. These wolves can hit speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour).
However, even a domestic cat is not to be trifled with in terms of speed over short distances.
A felid may only hit 18 miles/ hour (29 km/h) at top speed, but they can also reach (26 km/h) at full tilt in just 3 to 4 strides.
With all things being equal-or close enough-the average speed and acceleration means that an average cat would indeed be able to beat an average-sized coyote over shorter distances when both animals have their running shoes on.
Can cats run faster than Coyotes? While there is a possibility that some domesticated house cats could run marginally faster than their wild cousins, on average over a given distance coyotes will be able to cover more ground than cats.
There’s really no scientific evidence to support any definitive statement regarding which animal is faster in terms of overall speed and acceleration.
However, anecdotal evidence seems to consistently back up that most housecats have trouble catching mice.