Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Your cat lifts his or her bum to the air while being pet because it is a reflex that occurs when they are enjoying the experience.

When a cat is scratched in an area with a lot of nerve endings and sensitivity, a stretch with the butt in the air is a natural positive response to this.

Call it what you’d like: elevator butt, bum in the air, butt stretch. While it may sound strange, most cat owners have witnessed their cat exhibit this behavior. For many, it may be a common part of your day to day interactions with your cat — it depends on many factors such as how often you pet your cat, how much your cat enjoys being scratched, and your cats preferred areas for scratching.

One thing that is for certain is that a cat’s tendency to lift their butt to the air will vary from feline to feline. Personally, one of my cats will react in this way every time they have their back scratched, but the other cat does not seem to have a reaction.

A Cat Butt in the Air is a Good Sign

First thing’s first: before we get into the details as to why it’s actually a good sign when your cat directs their rear to the ceiling, let’s establish the emotion behind this behavior.

If you were worrying that this quirk may be a sign that something is medically wrong with your cat, be rest assured that this is most likely not the case. We know that cats have many ways of expressing themselves physically, and when a cat lifts their butt to the air, it’s just their way to tell you that they are enjoying a session of petting.

Your cat’s preferred petting zones will vary widely from animal to animal, but in general, the following are the main spots that cats most enjoy human physical touch on: head, neck, and chin.

It is also worth noting that some breeds of cats are reportedly predispositioned to embrace human affection than others, such as social breeds like siamese. But does this mean that the average American short hair dislikes petting of any form?

What are Other Positive Cat Signs?

A butt in the air is not the only way that a cat shows their appreciation for humans. Contrary to popular belief, cats are naturally content and calm animals, and they can be quite effective at expressing this if you know what to look for.

Let’s start with the most obvious clue: purring. Purring is the most commonly-heard cat noise — even more so than meowing! Cats can also use a purr to express fear or sadness, but it is most commonly used to express contentment.

Other clues that your cat is happy include an active appetite, a tendency for play, and an interest in your owner.

Yes, this means that your cat isn’t just sitting on your keyboard constantly to cut you off from your work and frustrate you — they are also doing it because they are happy and would like your attention (I have had to gently move my cat from my keyboard twice while writing this very article).

What Cats Tell Us Through Their Tails

Cats actually send messages of all kinds through their tails — and they’re not all about a good pet. Other body language patterns that are related to a cat’s tail include a curved tail to represent a playful mood, a flat tail to represent aggression, or a puffed tail to represent fear.

Do Cats Like Being Petted?

While there are sometimes rumors floating around that state cats don’t enjoy being touched, the good news is that this is most likely scientifically false. Cats do, indeed, enjoy being stroked.

However, it is possible that when a cat is already feeling stressed about something else, being handled by his or her owner can add to their discomfort levels. While this may seem like common sense, it can serve as a gentle reminder to give a cat space when it is obvious that they are troubled by something.

Do Cats Like Their Tails Scratched?

Just because a cat may be giving you signals that they like the general area around their tail scratched, it doesn’t mean that cats like being scratched directly on their tails. This may seem like a mixed message, but is it surprising? Cats are fickle creatures, after all!

We probably don’t need an expert to tell us that cats don’t like having their tails scratched. The reason why they don’t is similar to the same reason why they enjoy a scratch at the base of the tail — there are a lot of nerve endings there, and this area is sensitive.

Can I Scratch My Cat’s Belly?

While we can establish that cats do enjoy a nice pet from time to time, this does not mean that your cat will appreciate your hands on every part of his or her body. One famously taboo place is your cat’s belly.

A cat showing you his or her belly is a sign of trust. This is a vulnerable position for a feline to be in, and they only show their bellies to those who they trust to not take advantage of them.

This is Archie wanting a tummy rub. You may be one of the lucky minority whose cat tolerates (or even relishes in) a tummy scratching, but that doesn’t mean that you should try your luck with any cat that you meet.

When you are getting to know a cat, baby steps are always best. A good way to judge whether or not a cat will be open to receiving a scratch from you is by first letting them sniff your hand. If that seems to go over well, then you can proceed with caution.

However, you still shouldn’t jump to the belly automatically. Once your cat has given you body language that it is okay to pet them, a good place to start is behind the ears or the top of the head.

Why Does My Cat Lay With Their Belly in the Air?

Here’s the twist: just because your cat may trust you enough to lay with their belly in the air in your presence, it doesn’t mean that this is an open invitation to pet them.

Sure, a cat may feel comfortable showing their belly, but it is still a sensitive area for them and may simply just not feel enjoyable. It is important not to force any petting upon any cat — cats don’t take kindly to force.

Can Cats Be Ticklish?

Could a cat dislike being petted in a certain area because they are ticklish? It’s possible.

Just as the levels of ticklish propensity among humans can vary, the same is most likely true for cats as well. Common ticklish areas for cats include the bottom of the paws or on their sides — not unlike humans!

Does My Cat Lift Their Butt Because They’re in Heat?

Some pet owners who spot their cat with their butt in their air may notice similarities to this behavior and the behavior that cats commonly picked up when they are in heat. In female cats, this phenomenon is called “lordosis” and occurs when they are entering heat.

Though obvious, it deserves a mention: the fact that your cat is taking on a posture similar to lordosis does not mean that she is entering heat.

If your cat is not neutered, and you believe that she may be entering heat, look for other signs such as excessive grooming or a lack of appetite.

Now is as good of a time as any to remind readers of the benefits of spaying or neutering their cat, such as cancer prevention, lengthened lifespan, and of course, control of the animal population.

Cats are very affectionate and love to be petted. If you’re a cat lover, you may have noticed your cat lift its butt when you’re petting them. While this is a cute gesture, it can also be frustrating for cat owners who don’t understand why their kitty is doing it.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

So, if you have ever asked yourself ‘why do cats lift their butt when you pet them?‘, then read on.

Table of Contents

Reasons Cats Raise Their Butts When You Are Petting Them

Here are a few of the reasons why your cat will raise their butt when they are being petted (also known as elevator butt).

They’re Enjoying It

It may seem odd, but when your cat is enjoying being petted, they may lift their bum up in the air. If you’ve ever been in a situation where your cat has lifted their butt when you’re petting them, you’ll know how funny it is.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Your cat may do this because they’re happy, or they may be enjoying the sensation of being petted.

It’s usually a good thing to let your cat enjoy their petting sessions.

It can help you bond with them, and will encourage them to play with you.

Your Cat Trusts You

Another reason your cat may raise their butt when they are being petted is that they trust you.

Cats are very curious creatures, and if they sense that you are genuinely fond of them, they may be more likely to lift their butt when they are being petted.

Your Cat is in Heat

If your cat is in heat, they may lift their butt when they are being petted. This is a natural instinct that will be triggered when your cat is in heat.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

If you notice your cat doing this, don’t worry – it’s normal behavior and there’s nothing to worry about!

Just remember that cats can also become aggressive during the heat cycle.

If your cat starts to show signs of aggression, such as growling, biting, hissing, or clawing at people or objects, this is a sign that your cat is in heat.

Your Cat Wants You To Help It Scratch An Itch

Your cat may lift up their bottom when they are being petted because they want you to scratch their itch.

While cats are known to be very flexible, sometimes they may find it hard to scratch a certain itch.

If your cat is lifting their butt when they are being petted, it may be because you are hitting the spot that they struggle to get to.

My Cat Doesn’t Raise Their Butt When I Pet Them, Should I Be Worried?

It’s good to know that there are many reasons why cats raise their butts when you’re petting them. However, if your cat doesn’t lift their butt when rubbing their base tail, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with them.

Some of the common reasons why they may not do this are:

  • They may just not like the way you pet them
  • They may be feeling unwell
  • They just want to be left alone
  • They don’t feel comfortable with you

Do Cats Like Being Petted?

While cats are extremely independent creatures, most of them love to be stroked and petted.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

It helps them to relax and calm down, especially after a long day of being outdoors (or just playing around the house).

You can find that cats love to be petted on their bellies, along their backs and sides, and even on their heads. Some cats may even like to be petted on their tails.

Petting your cat is a good way to show affection to them and helps you bond with them better.

Why Do Cats Put Their Bum Towards You?

Cats like to communicate with you, and they will use different ways to do so.

When your cat puts their bum towards you, it’s a way for them to say hello. Cats will put their bum towards you if they want you to pet them, or if they want you to hold them.

They are simply showing affection towards you.

Final Words

In conclusion, cats love the feeling of being petted. When you stroke their back, the cat feels it. And it knows that it’s the right thing to do—you’re their best friend.

Although this may be true for most cats, there are some cats who don’t like to be petted.

If you notice your cat putting their bum towards you when you’re petting them, it is usually a sign of affection.

If you’re concerned that your cat doesn’t like being petted, or you’re not sure why they’re doing this, then it’s a good idea to consult your vet.

However, if you’re just happy to pet your cat and enjoy the experience, then there’s no need to worry.

My name is Ben and I am a cat lover. I’m not a professional writer or a doctor or an expert of any kind on anything. But I am a guy who likes to share what little knowledge and experience I have with others.

Updated on Apr 10, 2022

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

As a cat owner, you have probably noticed many strange things about your pet, but the way they often stick their butt in the air when you scratch them is one of the most amusing. If you have noticed your cat exhibiting this behavior and would like to find out what causes it keep reading. We will look at several reasons your cat might be raising its butt, and we’ll also discuss if it’s a good or a bad thing to help you understand your pet better.

Reasons Cats Raise Their Butts When Scratched

1. They’re Enjoying It

The most likely reason your cat raises its butt when you scratch the base of its tail is that it enjoys it. Raising the butt can help bring the nerves closer to the surface, making the target easier to hit. Cats also tend to stand still when they do this, so you don’t need to chase after them. Our cats also tend to start purring with the raised butt, reinforcing the cat’s belief that it enjoys it.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Image Credit: nevodka, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat is in Heat

If you did not get your female cat spayed and is raising her butt, there is a good chance she is going into heat. Allowing your cat outdoors at this time will almost guarantee a litter on the way but keeping her inside is likely to cause serious damage to your home. A female in heat will cover most surfaces with urine, and she might also resort to clawing the furniture.

3. Instinct

Kittens rely on their mothers for everything during their first few days, including grooming. One of the ways a kitten makes it easier on mom to keep them clean is by raising its butt in the air. Doing so makes it easier for the mother to clean them, and there is a good chance this behavior is a hold-over. Your hand may feel similar to its mother’s tongue when it was small, and it is engaging in the same behavior.

4. Communication

The Anal glands of a cat produce powerful pheromones that allow cats to communicate with each other, and you have likely seen cats sniffing each other’s butts as a greeting when they are friendly with each other. There is a good chance that when your cat raises its butt toward you, it is its way of saying hello, and it invites you to take a sniff.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

My Cat Doesn’t Raise Their Butt

If your cat doesn’t raise its butt or only raises it a small amount, there is no need to be concerned. Each cat is unique, and there are bound to be cats that don’t raise their butts when you pet them. Some cats will go to great lengths to make sure you can’t pet them, and they may live their entire life this way. Other cats will lighten up and allow you to pet them after they get used to you, and you might witness that they raise their butts like the other ats when they are comfortable.

What If Scratching My Cats Butt Seems Painful?

If your cat seems to be experiencing pain when you scratch the base of its tail, we highly recommend taking it to the vet to have it looked over for potential health issues. Kidney stones, kidney disease, impacted anal glands, spinal problems, and skin allergies can all cause your cat to feel pain when touched in this area. It’s even more likely to be a medical condition if your cat previously enjoyed it when you scratched it in this area. An early diagnosis can help get your cat back into good health sooner.

Related Read:


Unfortunately, we can’t ask our pets why they behave the way they do, so we need to make some educated guesses. In our opinion, the most likely reason your cat raises its butt is to show you that it enjoys what you are doing. It may be a hold-over from childhood, and it might be expecting you to sniff its butt, but cats don’t usually get into this position for other cats that regularly sniff there. The only other time we see cats get into this position, with the front of the body close to the ground with the butt high in the air, is when they are scratching the carpet, which also seems to make them feel good.

We hope you have enjoyed this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we helped you understand your cat better, please share this guide to why cats raise their butts when scratched on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: STGEEVES, Shutterstock

What material do cats like to scratch?

Good cat scratch surfaces for many cats include sisal ropes and cloths, paperboard, and even uncovered wood .

What material are cats least likely to scratch?

“The best fabrics are Ultra Suede and Leather because cats can’t get caught in them,” said Geneja.

What surfaces do cats not like to scratch?

Cats are born from scratches . Instead, choose one of the following fabrics that looks good on your cat’s parents and works well: Microfiber. Faux aid. denim. Synthetic polyester, rayon, nylon, or acrylic.

Where do cats like to scratch?

Cheeks -Most cats enjoy good cheek scratches. Cat cheeks contain scented glands, so when rubbing them, you mix their scent with yours.

What textures do cats like?

Cats Want Horizontal and Vertical Scratches You may find that cats like to stretch and scratch vertically, such as clogged sofa arms and doors. They also like to scratch horizontally, like when scratching areas of the carpet.

Do cats like cardboard scratchers?

Cats have a taste. Like Catit Chaise-Shape Scratcher with Catnip and PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge, most cats go to corrugated cardboard . However, some people prefer other textures such as carpets, sisal ropes, and wood.

What textures do cats hate?

Texture: Sticky paper, aluminum foil, heavy plastic, or plastic carpet runners (hump side up) can be placed wherever you want to be off limits. Cats don’t like walking on these surfaces.

How do I make sure my cat doesn’t scratch the couch?

Fit the sheet firmly into the scratched part of the couch to prevent the cat from damaging the couch . Use double-sided tape or aluminum foil for the sofa. Cats naturally dislike citrus odors, so spray a citrus scent spray on the sofa.

Will cats ruin leather furniture?

Leather furniture is convenient to carry, but can be easily torn into small pieces with the cat’s paws . Cats, whether leather or not, usually find a way to scratch furniture if the correct precautions to curb this behavior are not taken.

Do cats like tin foil?

Cats don’t like the look, feel, and sound of “tin” foil. When moved, bent, or stepped on, the foil makes a very clear, high-pitched crumple sound. The crumpled aluminum foil actually emits high notes that reach the ultra-high range.

Will cats scratch microfiber?

Cat owners are always looking for furniture that won’t make cats a scratch post. Microfiber furniture has proven successful for many pet owners who have found cats scratch-free and easy to clean.

Will a cat scratch a leather couch?

Cats are scratchers, it’s in their instinct. If you plan to buy a new sofa, it’s important to know that cats will scratch leather furniture. The truth is that cats hurt almost anything . They put their nails in it, whether it’s leather or not.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them?

The most likely reason for a cat to raise its butt when scratching the base of its tail is having fun . Raising your hips will bring your nerves closer to the surface, making it easier to attack your target. Cats also tend to stand still when doing this, so you don’t have to chase them.

What smell does a cat hate?

As a rule, cats are sensitive to odors, but there are some disliked scents that may surprise you. They can’t tolerate citrus and may like the scent of fresh herbs, but cats hate rosemary and thyme . Bananas and mustard, like lavender and eucalyptus, are not a big deal.

What do cats love the most?

Cats love sleeping and taking naps. Cats love to groom and groom themselves. cats love clean and private bathroom space. cats love to scratch — and need —. cats love high places to see and hide. cats love an exciting environment. cats love humans.

Can you train cats to not scratch furniture?

Kitty can’t stop the scratch, but of course you can instruct him to scratch it in the right place . Make sure you have a large selection of scratch posts that your child can scratch to their heart’s content.

Do cats prefer soft or hard beds?

Cats tend to prefer soft surfaces . It doesn’t have to be that soft. The cat sleeps on the doily part of the wooden table.

Do all cats scratch furniture?

You may have noticed that your cat is scratching when you come back from work or when you meet a fellow cat. This is a healthy way to relieve tired emotions. Contrary to popular belief, cats do not damage furniture or carpets or intentionally destroy things.

What materials do cats like to sleep on?

Choose natural materials to get started: Cats have a sensitive nose, so choose natural materials that breathe better than synthetic and have less chemical odor, such as cotton, wool, and unbleached bedding . I choose.

Do cats like carpet?

Cat Carpets Recently, carpets have moved from carpets to hard-surfaced flooring styles, but carpets are perfect for home areas where you want to add softness and comfort. Cats tend to enjoy pulling on the carpet string, so avoid the loop carpet style where your claws get caught.

Why does my cat run to the scratching post when I come home?

So it is believed that when you get home, you try to convey something and the cat runs up to the scratch stick. please think about it. If scratches are a way for cats to release their anger, it could probably be a way to express other emotions like excitement. And this is probably the feeling your cat sees you.

Does aluminum foil stop cats from scratching?

Wrapping aluminum foil around furniture is another way to prevent cats from being scratched . The sound and feel of the foil is usually unpleasant for cats. Double-sided tape can be used for furniture. It works by discouraging your cat from scratching with the sticky, sticky sensations that cats dislike.

Is it OK to spray a cat with water?

Spraying cats with water can have long-term adverse effects . In addition to physical discomfort, spraying water on a cat does not actually improve the behavior of the cat and can be very confusing.

What can I put on furniture to keep cats from scratching?

You can also use aluminum foil or double-sided tape to cover the area . Another option is to spray the sofa with a citrus scent, as cats don’t like the citrus scent. Encourage the cat to scratch the post. Sprinkle catnip on the post or spray honeysuckle.

How do I stop my cat from scratching the carpet and furniture?

Double-sided tape acts as a deterrent and ultimately trains the cat to avoid that area, especially on vertical planes . Blow the scent into that part. Where the cat was scratching, use a cat pheromone plugin or a spray like Feliway.

Many cat owners enjoy chatting to their pet, asking them questions or even voicing their inner thoughts. This desire for communication is not a one-way street. Although often very independent, cats can be very affectionate and responsive. A common sight is to see your cat elevate its tail while petting, but what is it trying to say?

Read on in this AnimalWised article to discover Why do Cats Raise Their Tail When Being Petted?

Do not forget to comment and share your photos with other members to get more helpful tips.

  1. Feline Language and False Beliefs
  2. What Does it All Mean?
  3. The Tail for Feline Communication

Feline Language and False Beliefs

Cats communicate with us in many different ways such as meowing, behaviourial changes or body positioning. One very specific position is when the cat crouches slightly and raises its tail.

Many people believe that this behaviour is sexual as, in doing so, the cat usually reveals their most intimate parts. But that’s not necessarily true as even neutered cats stick their tail up when petted. Elevating the tail can happen in females when males stimulate the caudal gland underneath the tail during mating season. This would not be the case when the animal is being petted by a human.

If you have questions about how your cat’s behaviour changes when in heat check out this article on How to Know if Your Cat is in Heat.

What Does it All Mean?

When cats get into a friendly mindframe and receptive posture, they are trying to communicate the affection they feel towards us. Conversely, if we observe a cat with its tail down, we are probably looking at a frightened, scared or forlorn animal.

Exchanging odors is essential for communication between cats. For this reason, lifting the tail acquires another meaning: doing so exposes their anal glands, which produce an identifiable and unique scent for each cat.

The meaning of a raised tail is not merely a ‘presentation’ for another cat to smell these glands. This behaviour is carried out repeatedly as a display of affection, complicity and confidence in its owner.

The Tail for Feline Communication

A cat’s tail is very important for balance and movement, but unlike other appendages, they are also there for expressing different emotions:

  • Tail up: This position denotes confidence, security and total control of the situation. Usually the cat shows a high tail in situations of comfort, happiness and welfare.
  • Tail close to the body: This type of position indicates the opposite to the previous one: fear, distrust or uncertainty. The cat is trying to go unnoticed in a particular situation by not exposing its information through odor.
  • Bushy tail: If you look at a cat with a swollen, thick and bristling tail you had better leave and give the cat privacy as these are signs of anger. Even if your cat seems to be enjoying being petted, be careful if you see its tail swish form side to side as this is usually a sign of imminent aggression.

However, there are many other factors which influence and help us better understand the bodily communication of the cat. Ears, head and body position should be observed to see what they are trying to say and is our only key to understanding the animal.

To discover more about how cats communicate, read these articles on Why do Cats Purr? or How to Introduce a New Cat to your Cat.

If you want to read similar articles to Why do Cats Raise Their Tail When Being Petted?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

Do Kittens Think of Their Owner as a Mother?

You’re giving kitty some love, scratching behind his ears and stroking his back. He raises his hear higher and higher in the air. Happily, he sticks his tail straight up and maneuvers his butt right in your face. Kitty isn’t trying to tell you off; it’s a sign of affection.

Communication Clash

You and your kitty don’t really speak the same language, unless you’re fluent in cat. To a cat, body language is more important than vocalization. Your kitty meows at you because he’s realized that vocalization is important to humans. If you’ve ever seen two cats greet each other, there is a lot of rubbing and sniffing going on. Cats have scent glands at the base of their tails that a secrete a compound known as a pheromone. Pheromones give kitty information about whomever he’s sniffing, and he also leaves pheromones on you to mark you as his.

Just Another Cat

While kitty will adapt to vocalize with you, he still views you as another cat. Therefore, he will use similar communication as he would use with other cats. This includes rubbing on you, sniffing you and grooming you. Some forms of cat communication, like butt sniffing, are kind of offensive to us humans. We certainly don’t greet each other that way, at least if we want to continue having friends. Just understand that kitty isn’t trying to upset you. To him, it’s perfectly natural and even friendly.

When He Was a Kitten

But scent communication isn’t the only reason kitty might give you the rear-view. When your kitty was a small kitten still nursing from his mother, she would groom him with her tongue. This grooming was soothing to him, and as a domesticated cat he’s still very kittenish as an adult. He enjoys being pet on the rear because it reminds him of this affectionate grooming he received from his feline mom. He now goes to the litter box on his own, but when he was a kitten his mom had to help him out. She would lick his anus to encourage him to use the bathroom. While you see this as gross and probably have no intention of licking kitty’s bum, he will instinctively show you his rear as a learned behavior from kitten-hood.

Surrogate Mom

Kitty is dependent on you for everything. You feed him, groom him, pet him and play with him. Essentially, you have become his surrogate mom. Kitty not only views you as another cat, he sees himself as your kitten. So it’s natural that he would respond the same way he did to his feline mother to you. This can be adorable when he melts into a purring ball of cuddles in your lap, or annoying when he begs you for food. Loving having his butt pet and showing you his rear are just instinctive responses to his mother’s attention. Remember, the next time he sticks his butt in your face, he’s just calling you mom.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

What Causes a Cat’s Tail to Constantly Twitch?

Ah, cats. The furry felines are as mysterious as they are beautiful, and cat lovers adore them for it. From the way a cat moves her tail to the specific positioning of her ears, determining precisely what she is trying to communicate is not always the easiest task!


If you’ve ever noticed that your adorable kitty seemingly automatically sticks her rear end up in the air when you pet her, it’s because she loves what you’re doing and wants to feel it more! The area by a cat’s tail is an extremely stimulating and sensitive spot, so by sticking her rear in the air, she essentially is trying to maximize the “feel good” factor. It’s actually a compliment. Your cat is enjoying the touch and wants you to continue doing it. This is pretty straightforward, really.


The word may sound funny and awkward, but “lordosis” actually is a technical term that is used to describe a posture female cats assume when they are in heat. Sexually mature queen cats stick their rear ends up in the air to indicate to males that they are prepared and ready for mating. Cheeky little things!

Urine Marking

Tomcats frequently exhibit the stance when engaging in typical territorial marking behavior — the infamous urine spraying. The position has no deep meaning when done in this situation, generally. Male cats likely believe that their spray will hit their intended target more accurately. Some cats also seem to think that they will look more imposing and threatening with their rear ends positioned higher.


If your female cat is positioning her body this way constantly when you’re not even petting her, consider taking her out of her misery and getting her spayed immediately! Once she is spayed, she will no longer go through the heat cycle, thus saving you a lot of hassle. Not to mention, it eliminates the troublesome risk of her becoming pregnant and contributing to the ever-growing epidemic of feline overpopulation. Cats that are spayed also enjoy the benefits of improved health, and honestly, what could sound better than that?

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

When a cat is showing its butt, it is actually a compliment.

If your cat tends to show their bottom when you go in for a stroke, don’t feel disgusted. Your feline friend is showing good cat manners and paying you a huge compliment.

Updated on the 03/05/2022 17:55

Your cat jumps onto your lap, kneads your legs, rubs their face against you, lets out a loud purr then turns around, raises their tail and shows you their bum. Sound familiar?

Most cat owners have likely experienced the moment their cat sticks their furry little rear end in their human’s face. But why do our furry friends insist on showing their butt and what does it mean?

Why cats show their butt?

It’s quite common for cat owners to at some point ask the question, “why does my cat like to put their butt in my face?” But if the sight of your cat showing you their bum makes you feel disgusted or even insulted, then it really shouldn’t. What your cat is doing by presenting their rear end to you is actually a compliment and very polite in feline etiquette terms.

In the human world, we shake each other’s hand, maybe share a kiss on each cheek, introduce ourselves and ask questions about the other person. However, when two cats greet each other, they use scent to communicate and recognise each other. They begin with nose-to-nose sniffing and then sniff and rub each other’s side. Then one cat will likely turn around to present their backside to the other cat to allow them to sniff their bum. While this behaviour may seem unpleasant in the human world, to animals, the bottom is an area of concentrated scent that tells one cat a lot of information about the other. In the cat world, to present their anal area for sniffing is considered very polite.

Why cats show you their butt according to science?

While cats showing their bums might seem strange to us, it’s actually your cat’s way of being nice. According to cat researcher Mikel Delgado at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, it’s very normal for cats to sniff each other’s butts. They do it as a way to confirm another cat’s identity or just to say hello. Cats have glands all over their little furry bodies. This includes the base of the tail and each side of the anus. A cat’s glands contain scents that are unique to each feline, rather like the human fingerprint. These scents can communicate many things about the particular cat such as their health, age and sexual status.

Our feline friends don’t consider flaunting their rear as anything aggressive or even disgusting. When we are petting our cats and they show their butt, our cats may be inviting us to check them out or they just want to say a friendly hello.

Why do cats stick their bum in your face?

Amy Shojai, a cat expert and author on pet behaviour, says cats raise their tail as a sign of friendliness and trust. They give you full access to all of their most intimate details found in their scent. Turning around simply makes this invitation even clearer. Shojai suggests that cat butt presentation is a complimentary show of love, similar to the way humans enthusiastically greet each other with a hug or kiss. When a cat shows you their butt, it means they are very comfortable in your company and assume that you are also comfortable. If a cat keeps their tail down and doesn’t want their bottom sniffed, it can be compared to a shy person hiding their face.

Why do cats like being hit on the bum?

Most cats have their preferred area of the body to be stroked and scratched. Many cats enjoy being scratched or firmly patted just above their tail. This is a very sensitive area of a cat’s body, and they will instinctively lift their bottom in response. As your cat raises their bottom higher and higher and sticks out their tail, they may then show their butt to you as a sign of affection. But while most cats seem to enjoy a firm pat on their bum, you must not do it too hard and if they start to get overstimulated or upset, then stop.

While your cat showing you their bum is perfectly normal and a huge compliment, don’t worry, your cat probably doesn’t expect you to smell their bum. As much as your cat loves you, cats are clever and realise that you aren’t a fellow feline. It’s simply their way of using their body language to open themselves up to you so you can recognise them and know that your feline friend trusts you.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Zoë Monk is a freelance content writer from Dorset. After graduating with a degree in Journalism, she worked in marketing and PR before becoming a Mum and embarking on a freelance career. One of Zoë’s favourite things about freelancing is being able to work at home with her beloved tortoiseshell cat Bobby close by.

Frequently asked questions

Why does my cat stare at me?

Your cat staring at you may leave you feeling uncomfortable, but far from creeping you out your staring feline friend is actually showing their affection for you. If you spot them breaking their stare with some slow blinks, then your cat is sending you’ eye kisses’ and telling you they love you.

Find out more about why your cat stares at you.

What does my cat’s body language mean?

Your cat may not be able to use words to communicate with you, but their body does all the talking instead. Your cat uses facial expressions such as stares and slow blinking to show you they love you. When their ears are upright, and forward then your cat is feeling playful and happy. But if you spot your cat’s ears to the side or flattened back then watch out, your cat isn’t pleased about something. From their tail to their posture, the rest of your cat’s body has a lot to say too.

What does my cat lick me?

There’s no mistaking that sensation of being licked by your cat’s sandpaper-like tongue. Your cat may lick you because they want to show that they love you, to mark you as their human or they want to show you how to groom yourself (don’t take it personally). It could even be because you smell nice after cooking dinner! However, cats also use grooming to help them feel calm, so it may be that your cat is licking you because they feel anxious or stressed.

Petting your cat is all head scratches and cuddles until their butt ends up in your face. Don’t worry cat parents, we’ve all been there. You’re reveling in your cat’s shifting spotlight and all of a sudden, BAM! You’re confronted with an unobstructed and up-close view of your cat’s backside. It’s not the most pleasant part of your day, and yet your cat seems perfectly pleased with the revealing situation. So what’s the deal?

You can avert your eyes and hold your breath, but you also know it’s bound to happen again. Every time you get cuddly with your cat, there’s risk of that unwelcome exposure. But while you’d be more than happy to never see your cat’s butt in that much detail again, your cat has an entirely different train of thought.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Cat Logic

Humans stick to things like hugs and high fives when interacting with friends, but your cat follows a different set of social guidelines. If you’ve ever watched a cat interact with another cat, you know what we mean. What usually happens is that two cats greet each other face-to-face, and they each move forward until they’re face-to-butt. They’re not being rude, it’s actually the opposite.

With their powerful noses, cats communicate with their olfactory systems. They can tell a lot about their friends by sniffing various parts of their bodies. There are scent glands on the sides of a cat’s head, the corners of the mouth, ears, chin, and tail. And we can’t forget that the anus is ripe with revealing scents. Cats willingly offer these areas up so that their friends can take a whiff. This odor exchange is a great form of communication for our feline friends, and your cat assumes you operate in the same way. How are they supposed to know your nose is significantly inferior to theirs and that for your species, showing off your butt isn’t exactly appropriate?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

It Means They Like you

When a cat shows you their butt, they’re offering up that vulnerable area as a way of saying they want to be friends. It also means they trust you. They’re giving you full access to their scent glands so you can feel free to take a whiff (we definitely don’t recommend this). While a cat’s nose can determine anything from stress level to diet, your second-rate human nose won’t do you any favors.

PetPlace also points out that unlike humans, cats like to reintroduce themselves throughout the day. So even though you’ve spent all day with your feline friend, any change in their mood or behavior could be a new reason to position their butt toward your face.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

It Could Also Be An ‘Awkward’ Accident

It’s likely that your cat puts their butt in your face completely on purpose, but some of those awkward encounters might have been an accident related to your cat’s tail language. Along with smell, cats also communicate with their tails. Different tail positions mean different things. For example, a tail that is high and upright indicates a happy cat. It’s a type of body language that helps humans and other cats know what a cat is thinking.

A high tail means your cat is most likely feeling good and is in a mood to be extra friendly. If you’re giving a good scratch behind the ears, don’t be surprised if your cat’s tail rises to this upright position. It means you’re doing something right, but unfortunately, it can also lead to some accidental exposure. Your cat doesn’t care if your face happens to be nearby when they lift their tail. They’re communicating their feelings in the best way they know how.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

  • Pin
  • Share
  • Email

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Many cats enjoy the feeling of being pet by people, a fact that pleases cat lovers everywhere. It is well known that petting cats can reduce stress and even lower blood pressure in humans, and it may also reduce stress in some cats. Of course, some cats dislike petting and will hiss, growl, swat, or bite when someone tries to pet them. There are several reasons cats can be so opinionated about petting.

Why Cats Like To Be Pet

Most cats are relatively social animals that communicate with other cats by nuzzling, rubbing, and grooming one another. These actions send pheromones to other cats that help them identify each other and communicate. Cats prefer to communicate with humans on their own terms. They know we are not cats, but they sometimes communicate with us as if we were.

Many cats’ love of physical touch comes from kittenhood. Mother cats lick and groom their kittens to nurture them and keep them clean. The love hormone oxytocin surges in the mother and kittens during these actions, making the experience pleasant and comforting. Petting from humans mimics the sensation of being groomed and can provide the same pleasurable experience.

Bunting (nuzzling and rubbing on you) is one way cats show love to you. Petting is a way to return that love. Cats also enjoy petting because it feels really good to them. However, some cats prefer to be pet very little or at all.

Why Cats Don’t Like Petting

Some cats resist handling of any kind, including petting. This may simply be a personal preference for some cats. In other cases, it may mean the cat was orphaned at a young age or was not socialized with other cats or humans. Feral cats avoid human interaction entirely because they were raised in cat colonies that involve little to no interaction with humans. They learn to fear and avoid humans. Some feral cats can become domesticated enough to live with humans, but they may never accept petting.

Some cats may seem fickle. One second, they act like they are enjoying petting, and the next second they are hissing, growling, swatting, or snapping. One possible reason is that the cat may not like the specific area being pet. Often, it means the cat has reached a threshold for petting. Experts call this overstimulation aggression or petting-induced aggression.

If you want to pet a cat, first let the cat come to you. This is especially important if the cat is not closely bonded with you. A cat may feel threatened if you approach or pursue him; this will make the cat even less likely to trust you.

How to Pet a Cat

There are right and wrong ways to pet a cat, but it ultimately depends on the needs and wants of the specific cat. Many cats tolerate or enjoy petting from trusted people but resist petting from strangers. This is because it requires a certain level of trust for a cat to feel safe in a vulnerable position.

Allow the cat to sniff you and watch you before you attempt to pet them. Sitting down is a good way to show you are not a threat. Keep your hands relaxed near the cat’s level, but don’t reach out too close to the cat. The cat may rub or nuzzle your hand, a sign that they may tolerate gentle petting.

Where to Pet Cats

All cats are different, but there are a few general guidelines when it comes to petting locations. Cats seem most comfortable with gentle pets on the sides of the face. They may even push against you in response if they are enjoying the attention. You can slowly move your head along the sides of the neck and shoulders. Many cats will move to guide you to where they want to be pet. If the cat knows you and trusts you, they may enjoy being petted along their back and along the tail.

Cats are typically less tolerant to strangers petting them along the back, so avoid this if you are not closely bonded with the cat. While petting cats, watch for communication signals and body language. Stop petting the cat if they become tense or arch their back away from you. When in doubt, stop what you are doing and let the cat make the next move.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

While it seems like it’s super common to hear about dogs drooling, believe it or not, cats drool, too, it’s just less obvious and generally not as often. Cats sometimes drool when they’re being held or pet, largely because they’re so happy you’re giving them attention! Don’t sweat it, though, if your cat doesn’t drool, because not all of them do. If you’ve noticed your cat drooling in other situations, though, it could very well just be a normal reaction. We spoke with two vets to get their take on why cats drool when you pet them and if drooling is ever a problem.

Why Do Cats Drool?

“If a cat is drooling when you’re either holding them, petting them, or cuddling them, that likely means they’re relaxed and enjoying your company,” says Gerardo Perez-Camargo, DVM, VP of research and development at Freshpet. “That is a normal response and in fact, not a totally uncommon one either.” Cats, despite what some people may think, are largely affectionate creatures, and sometimes the way they display their happiness with affection is simply by drooling. “Our feline friends can also drool when sleeping,” adds Jessica Herman, DVM, at Fuzzy Pet Health. “Drooling in these aforementioned scenarios is normal behavior and not concerning.”

Not all cats will drool, though, while you pet them. Maybe yours just purrs, and that’s fine too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if your cat isn’t drooling, and it doesn’t mean they love you less if they don’t drool over you. Every cat is just different.

Is It Ever a Concern When Cats Drool?

A drooling cat can be a sign of a problem, though, and it’s something you should watch out for if it’s happening when your cat isn’t clearly happy or if it happens excessively. Drooling can be a larger sign of increased stress or illness. “If your cat is excessively drooling and they have crossed paths with a neighboring pet that they don’t like, it can be a result of fear and stress,” Dr. Perez-Camargo noted.

Drooling can also be a sign of infection or illness. Dr. Herman told POPSUGAR, “Dental disease, inflammation of the gums, and oral tumors can cause drooling along with possible bad breath, blood around mouth, and possible inappetence.” If you notice your cat is drooling a lot and has a changed behavior, it’s time to call the vet. Any excess drool in general is cause to check in with the vet, because it could be a larger problem.

Dr. Perez-Camargo stressed to POPSUGAR how important it is to always be aware (to the best of your ability) of what your cat is getting into and how they’re behaving. The more familiar you are with your cat, the easier it will be to spot an issue, such as excess drooling. While it may not necessarily be a mouth infection, it could be something like a toxic plant they ingested or even something they swallowed that’s lodged in their belly.

Don’t hesitate to check with your vet if your cat is ever doing anything out of the ordinary, including drooling too much. You’re better off asking for a professional opinion than letting it go, in case it is a problem.

What Does It Mean When a Kitten Arches Its Back & Shakes Its Tail?

Generally an upright tail means you have one happy cat. He’s feeling comfortable in his space, is fully capable of running around and putting his scent on everything and is showing you a greeting. Although a straight-up tail is often a good sign, watch for other cues that may warn you he is angry.


When Felix gallops across your living room floor with his tail proudly held high, he’s truly happy. It’s his way of letting you know he’s perfectly comfortable in his estate. He’s also signalling an invite for a petting session. Reach down, scratch his chin and rub his lower back above his tail. He’ll arch his back, purr like a lion and let you know that you’re all he needs in life to be happy.

Marking Turf

Felines have scent glands at the base of their tails. When Felix puts his rear end towards the wall, lifts his tail up high and twitches his tail, he’s releasing some of his signature perfume on that wall. You might not be able to smell it, but if any other kitties come around, they’ll know that Felix was there first. He’ll probably do this every time he enters the room and may even rub his hind quarters against your legs. That way when you leave the house, the neighborhood felines will know that you already belong to another cat.


Watch Felix and Max when they greet each other first thing in the morning. They’ll read each other’s body language, stick their tails up towards the sky and sniff one another — even sniff each other’s rear. When Felix parades proudly into the kitchen with his tail held high, he’s allowing you to offer him the same greeting. He’s sort of stating “go ahead and sniff me!”

Time To Eat

Have you ever noticed that Felix acts a little weird when his bowl is empty? He can’t talk to you so he has to show you when feeding time comes around. As soon as you get up, he’ll stand right at your feet meowing, staring up at you and point his tail towards the ceiling. Those are his cues that you must stop everything you’re doing and fill his dish with his morning entree.

Other Considerations

Even though an upright tail often means your furry family member is perfectly content, watch for a few signs that might let you know he’s agitated. If his tail is up and puffy, he’s scared of something. He might have been startled by a door slamming downstairs or maybe he saw a dog walk by outside. A fluffed-up tail indicates that he’s ready to attack if need be, so it might not be the best time to pick him up. If he flicks his tail from side to side or sticks it straight out, he’s a little nervous and you should leave him alone.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

Why Do Some Cats Lick Themselves or the Air When You Pet Them?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Some cats lick themselves or the air when they get pets and scratches from people. Let’s explore why this happens.

Your Cat Might Have an Itch She Can’t Scratch

If you are gently scratching an area of your cat’s body that she can’t reach herself, it might be dirty or itchy because it’s escaped her careful grooming efforts. This happens commonly on the rear end and tail-head areas of cats that are overweight.

When you touch that area, it can trigger an automatic desire for your cat to groom the spot, but since she can’t reach it, she licks at the air or a part of her body that she can reach instead.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Your Cat Might Have a Skin Condition

If your cat has fleas, mites, or allergies that cause itchy skin, your petting might be scratching an itch or causing an uncomfortable feeling for her. Her response might be to automatically begin licking, but some cats will also bite or scratch the person doing the petting, so be careful.

Your Cat Might Not Enjoy the Petting

Some cats seem to find pets and scratches delivered by a human uncomfortable. They may not like to be touched anywhere, or there may be certain parts of their body where they’d rather not receive petting.

Other cats have a condition called feline hyperesthesia syndrome, which causes their skin to be highly sensitive, so a small pet or scratch might be painful or extremely uncomfortable.

Your Cat Might Be Exhibiting Mutual Grooming Behavior

Cats that are friends often groom each other simultaneously. Your cat’s behavior of licking herself or the air when you pet her might be triggered by that mutual grooming desire.

What to Do if Your Cat Licks Herself When You Pet Her

If your cat starts licking herself or the air when you give her a pet or scratch, have her checked out by a veterinarian for skin conditions.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

It’s important to evaluate the rest of your cat’s body language when this behavior occurs. If she appears otherwise calm and happy, leans into your petting, and seeks it out again when you stop, she is probably happy with the way you’re petting her. However, if she acts upset, leans away, or moves as though she might bite you, she probably doesn’t like what you’re doing.

If the behavior only happens when you pet a certain area, consider whether this might be a spot that your cat can’t groom herself. If so, you can brush it for her daily to keep it clean and comfortable for her.

If your cat seems to dislike being touched in certain spots, avoid petting those areas both to respect her comfort and to avoid being bitten or scratched.

How To Get Your Cat To Clean Its Bum

If it is difficult to remove the matted feces from your cat’s fur, you might consider having its hair cut around the anus. This will prevent the feces getting trapped in your cat’s fur. Professional cat groomers will often perform this step and refer to it as a hygiene cut. For more information on cat health, visit us!

Why is my cat not cleaning her bum?

A cat’s inability to wash its bum most often leads it to fail. A cat must be flexible to get down, which can make it difficult for an elderly cat with arthritis. Your cat will groom itself if it can move its body enough to do so.

Why is my cat’s bum always dirty?

There are many reasons that a dirty rear or bum can occur. We often put it in dogs who have suffered from diarrhea. A pet who is overweight is another common cause. Anal gland issues can cause their bum to look dirty.

How do you clean a cats bum?

Hofve recommends using warm water and a washcloth to clean your cat’s butt. Baby wipes and pet cleaning wipes such as Earth Bath All Natural Cat Wipes can be used. I also sometimes use them. If your cat is unable to reach his bum on its own, you can use wipes.

How do I get my cat to clean itself?

Begin by brushing your cat daily to encourage her to groom herself. The skin is stimulated and blood circulated, as well as ridding your cat of ticks and fleas. Do not interrupt your cat’s grooming. This is important for your cat.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Does your cat ever walk up and head bump you? Congratulations, you’re part of the crew! That’s right; cats do this to members of their colony as a sign of unity. And here you thought it was just your cat being bossy!

Cats head bump each other and others to create a communal smell because cats recognize each other by smell before anything else. What your cat is really trying to tell you is, “Hey, I want you to smell a little more like me but don’t worry I still love you!” How is this done? Cats can activate the scent glands on their head just above the eye and below their ear, which excretes pheromones that they in turn rub on you. Just like that, you’re now part of the crew!

If you’re reading this and wondering why your cat doesn’t do this, don’t stress! Not all cats are part of the head bumping community. There is a hierarchy in cat colonies, and only the most confident cats are the ones that head bump.

Now that you know your cat is head bumping to say, “I love you,” it’s time to give the love back. You can head bump your cat right back, pet them, scratch their chin, or anything else that you know they love. This will be a great way for you and your cat to bond.

If your cat presses their head against you instead of bumping, they may be telling you they have discomfort. Keep a close eye on that behavior and be sure to contact us if the problem persists. This behavior can be caused by hypertension, a brain tumor, or other neurological problems that can be causing them pain.

Cats are complicated, but it is good to know that some of their weird little quirks are just their way of saying, “I love you.” Continue to build a bond with your pet and give the had bumps back when they come your way! Your cat will appreciate it.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

A cat’s body language tells you a lot about what they’re thinking or intend to do next. Sure, cats meow, hiss, and make lots of vocalizations to communicate, just like we humans vocalize when we talk. However, cats also rely on their full bodies to communicate, too.

Humans aren’t always good at reading these feline signs, so learning them will help you understand your cat better. As pet parents, we’re responsible for knowing our cats’ needs and wants, so we have to be able to know what they’re saying.

Tail twitching and chin rubbing are two ways cats communicate with body language. Here’s what they might mean.

What Does Tail Twitching Mean?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

As with dogs, the tail can signal a cat’s intentions. If a dog wags their tail, it often means they’re happy or excited. This is not always true with a cat, and they’ve perfected various tail twitches to carry different messages.

An upright tail that flips forward over the cat’s back is in a neutral, welcoming position. The cat is happy to see you. This posture can also signal indecision. The cat hasn’t decided what their next move will be.

If the cat’s tail quivers and they dance on their back feet, they’re giving you an ecstatically happy greeting. Cats use this same posture when they want to mark a place by urine spraying it. Luckily, there’s no spraying when this is a greeting.

Twitching the tail tip while holding it low and straight is often associated with hunting behavior. During hunting, the body is in a crouched position ready to pounce. The crouch and moving tail tip indicate an intense focus on prey.

Tail twitching can also be associated with aggression. The more the tail is moving back and forth, the less happy the cat is. Rapid tail movement means they’re issuing a threat to another cat or human.

An upright, “bottle brush” tail indicates the cat feels threatened and is being defensively aggressive. The hair on their spine also stands up giving them a “Halloween cat” profile and making them seem larger.

This is a ploy designed to make an aggressor go away. If you see a stray cat with a rapidly twitching or moving tail, it’s best to stay away from them for your own safety.

Sometimes cats will twine their tail around a person’s legs in a bid for attention or food. It’s also a marking technique to say, “This person is mine.”

What Does Chin Rubbing Mean?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Another aspect of feline body language is chin rubbing or head butting. These actions make cat parents smile because they signal a happy, affectionate cat.

By using this behavior, the cat is marking their person, another cat, or anything else in their territory as belonging to them.

Cats have glands on different parts of their bodies that secrete tiny amounts of pheromones. Pheromones are vital to cat communication.

A person can’t smell the scent, but another cat can, and this marking behavior is like leaving messages for other cats wherever they go. A cat uses pheromones to attract a mate, define territory, promote comfort, and let other cats know where they’ve been.

Cats may not be able to speak our human language, but they sure can say a lot just with their body language.

Does your cat talk to you with body language? Do you instinctively know how your cat is feeling? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Get Your Cat To Clean Its Bum

If it is difficult to remove the matted feces from your cat’s fur, you might consider having its hair cut around the anus. This will prevent the feces getting trapped in your cat’s fur. Professional cat groomers will often perform this step and refer to it as a hygiene cut. For more information on cat health, visit us!

Why is my cat not cleaning her bum?

A cat’s inability to wash its bum most often leads it to fail. A cat must be flexible to get down, which can make it difficult for an elderly cat with arthritis. Your cat will groom itself if it can move its body enough to do so.

Why is my cat’s bum always dirty?

There are many reasons that a dirty rear or bum can occur. We often put it in dogs who have suffered from diarrhea. A pet who is overweight is another common cause. Anal gland issues can cause their bum to look dirty.

How do you clean a cats bum?

Hofve recommends using warm water and a washcloth to clean your cat’s butt. Baby wipes and pet cleaning wipes such as Earth Bath All Natural Cat Wipes can be used. I also sometimes use them. If your cat is unable to reach his bum on its own, you can use wipes.

How do I get my cat to clean itself?

Begin by brushing your cat daily to encourage her to groom herself. The skin is stimulated and blood circulated, as well as ridding your cat of ticks and fleas. Do not interrupt your cat’s grooming. This is important for your cat.

When your cat cuddles up to you for some quality petting time, you may find yourself constantly scratching just at the base of their tail. This is basically because a concentration of nerve endings make your cat’s butt the best place for them to get maximum pet-age for their efforts. The sensation of being scratched or petting stimulates the nerve endings and helps your cat feel happy and relaxed!

Cats are extremely sensitive creatures, and have a way more specialized nervous system than humans do. For this reason, if you continue to pet your cat without paying attention to his or her moods, you may find your cat quickly growing overstimulated. No matter where you’re petting your cat, make sure you look for signs that they’re no longer having as much fun as you are.

How Does It Work?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

For most animals, touch is an important part of social bonding. Even as humans, we need the constant touch and validation of family members when we’re babies, and most animals exhibit the same needs. Even if cats aren’t herd animals like dogs, they still enjoy that physical reassurance of affection to feel safe and happy.

In most mammals, a special set of neurons lie just below the skin to interpret touches and relay signals back to the brain. The long, repetitive motion associated with petting an animal–or playing with a friend or loved one’s hair–triggers these neurons, and the brain interprets the signal as pleasure or a reward. While these neurons were officially found in mice, they are present in most mammals, no matter the size or scale.

As a result, most animals love to be petted. The soothing motion of petting a cat is relayed to the cat’s brain as stimulation of those “petting neurons”, and the brain gets a jolt of enjoyment out of the sensation.

Cats, especially, have a very highly developed nervous systems. Humans have around 5 million nerve endings in their system, while cats have around 19 million. Moreover, these nerve endings are located pretty much over their entire body, as opposed to being concentrated in their paws or extremities.

This explains why cats love being petted so much, but the good news is that you get just as much out of the deal as your cat does! According to The New York Times, prolonged contact with cats can have the same effect on your brain as prolonged contact with humans. Your brain triggers the release of oxytocin and reduces the amount of stress hormones in your blood, so that you feel calm and relaxed.

Your heart rate and blood pressure are generally lower if you spend a lot of time petting your cats, and the long-term health benefits are nothing to sneeze at. Studies show that cat owners are less likely to develop anxiety-related illnesses, and may even be less at risk for heart conditions!

In other words, petting your cat is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Your cat gets to appreciate the tactile sensations of being petted, and you get to play with your cat! More than that, however, you also get a chance to relax and lower your risk of stress and stress-related medical conditions that could otherwise pose a very real threat to your health.

Okay, but Why the Butt?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

The basic rule of thumb when petting cats is that they like to be petted in areas that are difficult for them to reach on their own. This is why areas like the back of the head or beneath the chin are generally preferred. In contrast, petting a place that a cat can groom or scratch on its own is less likely to be as welcome.

Recently (within the past 2 weeks or so), touching my cat’s hindquarters has resulted in him frantically biting his (FRONT) paws. I noticed it for the first time when I was petting him while he was sitting (he looked like a drinky bird). Also, if he can’t reach his paws (I’m in the way or something), he’ll bite whatever is in reach.

The biting isn’t a problem (he had stomatitis so badly that we had his teeth removed), but I can’t figure out what’s causing this behavior (and the other 3 cats don’t do it). Has anyone ever seen this before?

Update: After a few weeks all of our cats developed this behavior.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

4 Answers 4

I think what you’re encountering is called Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome but the common name is rolling skin disease. Not all symptoms may manifest, but according to Blackwell’s consult, the episodes can range from several seconds to minutes in length and can involve one or more of:

  • twitching skin
  • violent tail swishing
  • vocalizing
  • biting or licking

He may also have dilated pupils and appear further agitated.

There are some medicinal treatments, but one practice is to try and train them out of this if possible (may not be, causes will effect this). However, as the linked article notes, there are other diseases/illnesses that have similar symptoms (e.g. hyperthyroidism), so getting him checked by the vet would be a very good idea regardless.

Some additional information available on the Reno Animal Hospital site as well.

Why does my cat scratch me when I pet him? You know the drill. Your cat bounces on your lap while you’re working on your computer, rubs his head on you and wants you to pet him. Of course, you love your kitty and you’re very happy to oblige. At first, everything is great. Your cat is purring and seems to enjoy your attention. And of course, you love feeling his soft fur between your fingers as you stroke him.

And then, it happens.

Your cute cat seems to freeze for a second or two, and then he morphs into a mini-tiger that viciously scratches and bites you as if your hand was a giant rat or a big Angus steak.

Why Does my Cat Scratch Me When I Pet Him?

You scream and push your cat away, promising yourself that you will never fall into this kitty trap ever again.

Why do our feline friends sometimes betray our trust and scratch us when we pet them?

Actually, not all cats behave that way. Some of them can’t get enough love and affection. They demand petting and would never scratch you because they find it that good.

Then, you have the other extreme. Cats that are quite affectionate and love to rub against you, but that would never allow you to pet them because they hate it. It could be an innate nervous reaction, or because they never got used to being petted as kittens.

Most cats are actually in the middle. They enjoy a little bit of affection for a few minutes until they’ve had enough. Unfortunately, their favorite way to say they’re fed up is to maim our hands. This is called ‘petting and biting syndrome.’ What should you do to about with it?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet themImage: Pixabay.com

First, you should accept the fact that for most cats, long petting sessions are not part of their natural behavior. Contact among cats is always short and even when they groom each other, they tend to do it for a few minutes only until one of them gets pissed off and scratches the other.

Often, cats like to be petted but not on their tummy nor on their hind area because it makes them feel vulnerable. If possible, avoid these areas and focus on your kitty’s neck and head so that he feels more relaxed. Needless to say, you should never touch or grab your cat’s tail!

Humans tend to expect a lot from their cats, but felines aren’t dogs. They’re more independent and not as affectionate as their canine counterparts. By trying to pet, kiss and hug their cats too much, their owners end up stressing them and they might lash out in retaliation. Instead, you should read your cat’s behavior and stop petting him when you feel like he’s had enough. Don’t insist, even if you are disappointed in his behavior.

The most important thing is to look out for signs of stress: if your cat seems to freeze, his ears suddenly pointing backwards and his tail lashing back and forth like a whip, watch out! There’s a very high chance that he will scratch you. Stop petting him and wait for a little while. With time and patience, lots of cats learn to enjoy being petted, even if these stroking sessions don’t last for more than two minutes at a time.

Cats are unpredictable and a little crazy sometimes. That’s why we love them!

Featured Image Source: Aubrey, Flickr

Guest Writer Bio: Travis Atkinson works at Petplan New Zealand. He loves food, travel, and more than anything, animals (even sharks and crocodiles).

In this Article

  • Common Problems
  • Symptoms
  • Treatments

Your cat has two anal sacs in their bottom. Similar to a skunk’s scent glands, they help mark their territory. They produce a dark, smelly liquid. That liquid is usually squeezed out when they poop.

Your cat doesn’t actually need these sacs, but it’s best to leave them alone as long as they’re healthy. Sometimes problems develop, though, and need treatment.

Common Problems

Your cat’s glands may become clogged, infected, or abscessed. It’s much more common in dogs, but it happens to cats, too.

1. Impaction

The most common problem happens when the duct or tube used to empty out the anal sac gets clogged.

Pressure builds up and it becomes painful for your cat to poop. They may also be constipated.

2. Infection

When bacteria build up in the anal sacs, it can cause an infection. It can become so painful and itchy that your cat may show signs of fear or anger.

It’s important to treat an infection right away or it may turn into an abscess.

An abscess is a swollen, tender mass of pus. It’s the most painful of the three and needs to be cut and drained before it ruptures.


Look for changes in your cat’s behavior. Common signs are:

  • Scooting. Your cat might drag theirВ bottom along the ground.
  • Tail chasing. They may reach around for their tail more than usual.
  • A lot of licking or biting. Your cat may repeatedly lick or bite near their tail.
  • Pain. Your cat may have pain near their tail. They may strain when they poop. They may also find it painful to sit.
  • Swelling. The areas on the side of their anus may be swollen. You may be able to feel impacted, hard masses in this area.

If you see these signs, bring your cat to the vet. The doctor will do a rectal exam. They may also run tests if they thinkВ your cat may have an infection or tumor.


Anal Sac Expression

Your vet can usually squeeze out your cat’s impacted anal sacs by hand.

If the contents are hard or dry, theyВ may try to soften them up. TheyВ may also give your cat extra fiber, which bulks up the catsВ poop, making it easier to pass.

If your cat seems to be in pain, your vet may give him pain relief drugs. They may also use a tranquilizer or sedative to keep itВ calm.

Your vet may also rinse out itsВ anal sacs.

Expression Plus Antibiotics

If your cat has an infection, your vet will express (empty) their anal sacs and then give it an antibiotic to treat the bacteria.

Surgical Removal of Sacs

If these treatments don’t work and problems continue, your vet may surgically remove your cat’s anal sacs. This is reserved as a last resort, though, as it may result in complications like fecal incontinence where your cat leaks poop unexpectedly.

Show Sources

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine: “Don’t Ignore Your Pet’s Pain in the Butt!”

Your cat’s tail might appear to have a mind of its own sometimes, swishing and curling around its body or your legs. When you pair unexpected tail placement with a misstep, a door that closed too quickly or more severe accidents, you might come face-to-face with a very scared cat and a potentially broken tail.

A cat’s tail extends from its spine. Like other parts of the body, the tail contains bones, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. It can easily be injured in an accident. Tail trauma is usually pretty serious, since cats rely on their tails for a number of daily activities, including balancing and using the litter box.

It can be difficult for cat owners to really understand the severity of a tail injury. It’s typically best to have a veterinarian examine the tail professionally to make sure nothing is going wrong underneath the skin. However, if you witness an injury or notice your cat acting strangely, there are a few things that can clue you in to whether a tail injury needs attention.

Understanding common tail traumas

The most common symptoms of tail injuries include:

  • a limp tail
  • lack of tail movement
  • hair loss
  • bleeding
  • signs of pain such as hiding, aggression and vocalization
  • difficulty controlling bowels
  • swelling

Not every tail injury will result in a complete break. Like many limbs on humans, a cat’s tail can be fractured, broken and even dislocated. Minor cases may only consist of a skin-level scrape or cut with hair loss and minor bleeding. In severe cases, nerve damage or paralysis might occur.

However, tail fractures are some of the most common tail injuries and can be caused by a wide variety of accidents. Fractures that are closer to the base of the tail (near the cat’s body) are typically more severe than ones near the tip of the tail, since the base has more nerves and blood vessels to potentially damage.

If your cat’s tail has been injured near the base, it may have also suffered nerve damage. The nerves in this area help control your cat’s urination and defecation. Thus, in the event of nerve damage, your cat might not be able to control its bowels properly. If your cat is having trouble
using the litter box and has recently sustained a tail injury, there’s a good chance it has a fracture and/or nerve damage.

Nerve damage is also usually indicated by a limp or immobile tail. Cat’s tails generally wag and stand semi-erect. If your cat’s tail is hanging low constantly and can’t move on its own, it most likely suffered nerve damage in an injury.

What to do if your cat injures its tail

Whether you witness a tail injury or not, you’re most likely going to be able to identify that something is wrong with your cat’s tail. Here are the steps you should take to get your cat the help it needs.

  • Calm your kitty down: Cats that are in pain can be severely distressed and may end up injuring themselves more. Try to calm your cat down as much as possible before you take a look at the tail. Give it a calming, pain-relief supplement, try to pet it or put it in a safe place where it can relax.
  • Visually examine the tail: Check your cat’s tail for any cuts, signs of bleeding, strange angles or kinks and signs of movement. Try to avoid touching the tail, as this might cause your cat pain. If you must touch it, be extremely gentle and move slowly. Do not manipulate it or you may end up worsening the injury.
  • Call your vet: If you believe your cat is suffering from a tail injury, you should contact your vet right away. They will be able to ask questions about the trauma and your cat’s symptoms to deduce whether you should bring the cat in for an examination. Usually, fractures and serious tail injuries are not visible to the naked eye and will require X-rays and other examination for final diagnosis.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Treatments for fractured tails

The treatment plan for your cat’s injured tail will need to come from your vet, since every injury must be treated differently. For many tail fractures and clean breaks, the tail can heal itself naturally over time. Your cat may require some form of pain relief to ease its discomfort.

In more severe fractures or breaks, your vet may decide that amputation is necessary. This is common in crushed tails that won’t heal by themselves. Thankfully, most cats heal extremely well after this procedure and adapt to their shorter tails fairly quickly.

If there has been nerve damage due to the injury, your cat may need surgery to repair the nerves and restore proper function. This is usually one of the most severe outcomes, and your vet can provide more information about your cat’s particular injury and treatment plan.

The most important part of identifying and treating tail injuries is fast action. If you think your cat has sustained trauma to its tail, don’t hesitate to call your vet and make an appointment for examination. The faster your cat’s injury can be assessed, the faster you’ll be able to relieve its pain and get it on the path to healing.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

By Beth Adelman, MS

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I was in college, several members of the football team lived in my dorm. I’m five feet tall, and whenever I walked down their hallway, one of those huge guys would pick me up, give me a big hug, and tell me how cute and tiny I was. I know they didn’t intend to be mean, but I hated being randomly grabbed and lifted right off my feet, and I avoided that hallway whenever I could.

Imagine how your cat feels.

Being picked up and smushed into a hug is a stress trigger for cats. Cats are super predators, but they’re also prey animals. The first thing a giant predator does when it grabs something to eat is restrain it. That’s what cats do to mice, and it’s what it feels like you’re doing when you grab and hold a cat. Cats are naturally cautious, and they like to keep all four paws on a solid surface, so they can always leap away.

Understanding this is key to living happily with a cat. In fact, the more you let your cat decide when, where, and how physical affection will happen, the more he’ll give you. Cats are often more likely to approach us for affection, and to hang around longer, when we let them make the first move.

“Ask” First

Like us, cats prefer that we ask if it’s okay before we touch. Felines who are friends greet each other by touching noses. A human head is too big to really mimic that behavior, but a human fingertip is just about the size of that adorable triangle of skin at the tip of a cat’s nose. We can gently offer a fingertip at their nose level, a few inches away, as a way to ask politely, “May I pet you?”

Some cats will say no by walking away. Some may approach but then sit down with a bit of space between you—a way of saying, “I’m curious, but no touching yet.” No matter how adorable the cat, we need to respect those limits. Many cats will walk up and sniff your finger, and may even rub into it. That’s the invitation for petting.

Watch And Learn

Where you pet a cat matters—a lot. If you were visiting a country with a totally unfamiliar culture, you’d watch where and how the people touch each other to figure out what is and is not considered polite. When we do the same with cats, we find that they lick and touch each other around the cheeks, forehead, back of the neck, and shoulders. They always follow the grain of the fur in friendly interactions, too—no rubbing the wrong way.

A couple of studies have found that cats showed more positive responses to their humans—things such as purring, blinking, and kneading their paws—when they were petted on the forehead area and the cheeks. Clearly, we can’t go wrong when we follow feline etiquette.

What about that spot at the base of the tail, the one that causes some cats to lift their butt in the air? The petting studies suggest that’s actually not a favorite spot for many cats. Cats who do like it show you very clearly by lifting their behind. If your cat is not raising his butt for more, he’s one of the many who don’t care for that sort of thing.

Even when a cat says okay to touch, we’ve all had that experience where we’re petting a cat and it’s bliss, bliss, bliss—and then suddenly swat! It seems like it all changed in a nanosecond. Cats do have issues when it comes to being touched, and they get overloaded pretty quickly. But not as quickly as we might think. That swat is usually preceded by more subtle signals that we might miss.

How a cat communicates that he’s had enough varies for each individual. But signs of overstimulation include the following:

  • Skin over the shoulders stiffens or ripples
  • Whiskers come forward
  • Ears flick back, sideways, or flat
  • Tail flicks or lashes
  • Skin twitches
  • Pupils become slitted or very dilated
  • Claws come out (other than kneading)
  • A paw is raised
  • Vocalization (other than purring)

If you see any one of those signs, stop petting. If your cat chooses to remain beside you (because you have been so polite), wait a few minutes before you start petting again. Meanwhile, just keep your hands to yourself.

Of course, every cat is an individual with his own preferences. The best way to pet your cat is just the way he likes it. Pay close attention to his body language, observe the feline rules of politeness, and you’ll both be enjoying more cuddle time.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Beth Adelman, MS, is a cat behavior consultant in New York City. Beth is currently on the executive committee of the feline division of the Pet Professional Guild, and is a frequent speaker on cat behavior.

Boy, we cat lovers love our cats! Sometimes, to the point of an obsession! We watch their every move and want to understand just what they are doing and why. One of the things cat guardians seem perhaps overly curious about is why cats, after a bowel movement, sometimes leap from their litter box and dart away as if they are being chased. I have observed my own cat running from the litter box so quickly that he hadn’t quite finished “his business.”

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet themInternet speculation: why do cats poop and run?
I’ve recently come across an article by Amanda Bernocco, on HNGN, that speculates on this very issue. The posting says that “expert speculation” has finally revealed “a very scientific reason” why some cats might bolt out of their litter boxes after defecation (very exciting indeed). Bernocco goes on to say that cats are running because, in the wild, the smell of poop will attract predators.

Unfortunately, while the blog does name an “experienced pet writer (Lori Soard),” it’s unclear how the information was scientifically tested. No specific experts in veterinary medicine or animal behavior are mentioned, nor does it provide any references to scientific research on the matter. Therefore, while I find the speculation very interesting, I’d need to see more support before agreeing with this article’s conclusion.

Medical reasons for a cat to poop and run
Bernocco’s article touches on the fact that some cats may run from their litter box after eliminating either urine or feces if they experience discomfort from the process. This important point I can confirm, and want to give special attention. Such discomfort could be caused by infections or inflammatory processes involving the urinary tract, colon or rectum. It could even be caused by constipation issues. However, once such medical conditions are ruled out (and they most certainly should be), any other ‘psychological’ reason for running away, after eliminating, seems not yet to be science, but rather pure conjecture (which can still be fun).

What do the experts say?
Consider how extremely variable the behavior of covering up feces is in the cat world. Some cats do and some cats don’t, even in the wild. According to Feline Behavior Guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners’, “The cat may or may not turn to sniff or cover eliminations.” Newmanveterniary.com says, “Some cats cover feces and urine. some do not.”

Dr. Ilona Rodan, a veterinarian and feline specialty behavior consultant, is quoted in an animalplanet.com article as saying that, “she hadn’t found evidence that cats run from their waste in the wild.” The same article touches on several additional theories for this behavior, put forward by both Rodon and Carole Wilbourn (cat therapist), including:

  • Cats just feel better after relieving themselves
  • Cats are “flaunting” their grown-up independence, because they don’t need mommy to clean them up anymore
  • Cats want to call attention to their accomplishment
  • Cats with digestive problems want to get away from the problem as soon as the can

So, in essence, as one of my professors said when asked a question he couldn’t explain or answer, “Sometimes that happens.”

It’s understandable that we should all want, almost desperately, to understand what is going on inside the hearts and minds of our feline friends. Do they do what they do because they are happy, sad, anxious or excited? It would be nice to know, but for now I will just have to accept that the exact reason my cat flies out of the litter box, like a booster rocket, will just be one of many mysteries of innate cat-ness. I have found the best explanation to be “There he goes again!”

Isn’t it exciting that there are still so many things to learn about these magical and mysterious animals?

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By Joseph Castro published 18 October 13

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Kneading is a common behavior seen in domestic cats, in which the feline pushes in and out with its front paws, alternating between left and right.

Cats often perform this motion — sometimes called “kneading dough” or “making biscuits” — on soft surfaces, including pillows, blankets, other animals and even people.

It’s unclear why cats knead, but a number of hypotheses exist. [20 Weird Dog and Cat Behaviors Explained by Science]

The most oft-repeated explanation states that kneading is a leftover behavior from kittenhood. During nursing, a kitten will knead the area around its mother’s teat to promote the flow of milk.

In adulthood, a cat supposedly will knead when it’s feeling happy or content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mother. Adding further weight to the explanation: Some cats even suckle on the surface they’re kneading.

Another hypothesis proposes that kneading harks back to a time before domestication, when wild cats supposedly patted down foliage to make a soft surface for sleeping or giving birth. The behavior may now be an instinctual part of settling down.

On the other hand, kneading may just be another way for cats to scent and claim an area — cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws.

Originally published on Live Science.

If you are a cat lover, you are probably tuned in to the way your cat acts and what is normal for her. If your cat seems off balance or staggers when he tries to walk, it is very alarming. There are many causes for such abnormal behavior and it sometimes helps to know some of the possibilities.

Staggering or falling over can be called ataxia. The inability to maintain a normal upright posture is often a neurologic problem. The imbalance can be accompanied by other signs that will help you and your veterinarian narrow down the cause.

Developmental disorders occur when something goes awry during an animal’s formation and growth. These things can be secondary to infectious processes or just a mishap in development. An example of developmental disorder causing this type of symptom in cats can occur when a mother cat becomes infected with feline panleukopenia (a very contagious virus that we routinely vaccinate for) during her pregnancy. This virus stunts growth of the cerebellum in the gestating kittens and leads to a condition known as Cerebellar Hypoplasia. The signs are usually noticed in young kittens. Affected kittens may stagger and tremble, but are not otherwise ill and mild cases can live a normal life span as a protected pet. Sometimes the process is just too severe for the kitten to lead any semblence of normal life and humane euthanasia is the only option. A vet can help advise you if your kitten suffers from Cerebellar Hypoplasia.

Poisoning and toxic ingestion can also lead to staggering and ataxia. Toxicity can come from external sources, like toxic plants or chemicals, but advanced metabolic disease can present like a toxicity because of the imbalance of chemicals inside the body. The most notorious of the external toxic risks that can cause tremors and imbalance include antifreeze poisoning and topical insecticides meant for dogs. If there is any possibility that your cat could have been exposed to one of these toxins, take her to your veterinarian right away and explain the possibility of exposure. If you are certain that your cat could not have been exposed, see a veterinarian anyway to rule out metabolic toxicities.

Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can also occur in cats. Like any inflammation, it can be infectious, parasitic or auto-immune. If no one is able to figure out the exact etiology, it is called idiopathic. Cats suffering from encephalitis are very ill, often progressing from uncoordinated movements to seizures and unresponsiveness. Cats that are stumbling, acting very sick with fever and seem to be worsening are an emergency. They should be rushed to a veterinarian immediately and if it is after-hours, go to the animal ER.

Idiopathic Vestibular Disease is another condition in which the exact mechanism is not fully understood. These cats will stagger and fall easily. They usually have a head tilt and abnormal rapid eye movements called nystagmus. These symptoms combine into a frightening display that looks very life threatening, but if a cat is truly affected by Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, her prognosis is actually good if her symptoms can be managed while the condition runs its course (usually a few days, although the head tilt may remain). Hospitalization may be required for these cases as the imbalance can lead to motion sickness, anorexia and dehydration.

Injuries to the head can cause ataxia and lack of balance also. Sometimes you will not know that your cat fell or struck its head, but cats are so nimble that this is lower on the list of possible causes. Cats that routinely spend time outdoors however, do get struck by cars and suffer head trauma. Sometimes head injury cats will have a bloody nose or unequal pupils, in addition to the staggering and imbalance. Emergency treatment and stabilization should be instituted as soon as possible for any cat that could have a head injury. The prognosis will vary depending upon the severity of the injury.

Usually a veterinarian will be able to differentiate fairly easily between these major causes of staggering and ataxia and many others. Sometimes diagnostic tests are required. Not all of these causes carry a guarded prognosis and early intervention can be the difference between life and death. These are just some of the causes of neurologic signs for cats, so if you feel that your cat’s issue is not quite described here, please ask your veterinarian to help. These descriptions are intended to help cat lovers, but not to be a substitute for veterinary care. A cat that is acting drunk and cannot walk straight needs to be evaluated by a veterinary professional as soon as possible.

Please look me up on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ . I love hearing about your pets!

About The Author: Dr. Kathryn Primm is a practicing small animal veterinarian and practice owner at Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, TN. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to articles for Prevention magazine (April 2015) and Woman’s Day (Feb 2014 and June 2015). Her radio segment Chattanooga Pet Talk airs each week on all the local iHeart Media affiliates.

Cat people laugh and post photos of cats stretching out on their keyboards and technical gadgets. Some people believe that cats like these items because they are physically warm and perhaps they are correct. But it is probably more complicated than that. Cats do not limit themselves to warm computer parts. They also lounge on things, like paperback books, that have no internal warmth at all (but only when a person is also interested). It seems like anything that you prioritize can become intriguing to your cat. Have you ever wondered why?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

We all know that cats are notoriously curious. Maybe your cat feels that he must know what has caught and held your attention. If whatever it is holds enough interest for you, he might also be engaged. Cats are master micro-managers. They like to have their paws into everything. You are a part of your cat’s environment, so he feels a natural interest in things that you are interested in.

Since animals depend on the accessibility of their resources, they have to be able to prioritize value. If there is an object that is valued enough to attract you, it becomes instantly higher value to your cat because you are the trendsetter in your home. After all, you do provide food, shelter and protection to your cat and she knows it.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

Although these ideas may all play a role, the most believable one is that many cats like attention and interaction. You are looking at the book or computer and not your cat. Your cat might prefer to be your focus. If you think about life from a cat’s view, living in a house can be a little dull. Your presence is a major source of entertainment. It is clearly less fun when you are otherwise engaged.

The next time you want to lift your cat off of the keyboard, take a minute to play with him and show him that he is more important than anything else you might need to do. It will be good for you both.

It never fails. You sit down on the couch for an evening of nonstop streaming of your favorite series or — even better — with a book and a cup of tea. And here comes your furry feline friend with an intent look on her face and a purr at the ready.

She happily places her paws just so on your leg and starts kneading, rhythmically pressing her little front feet into your soft flesh. It’s cute, even if it does kind of hurt sometimes. Mostly because she’s so dang happy. But why does she do it?

Baby, We Were Born to Knead

Kittens are born with an instinct to knead. As tiny little fuzzballs, they press into their mother’s belly while they nurse. This action stimulates the milk to come out of her nipple and feed the baby kitty. This is called “milk treading,” which is less adorable than the more common term “making biscuits.” While they’re tucked up against mom, the kitten is warm — and being fed — and feeling very content.

Even after kittens are weaned, they continue this little two-paw dance when they’re happy. (Some cats get really into it and knead with all four paws.) People used to believe that adult cats kneaded because they were weaned too early, but that seems unlikely. Almost all cats knead, no matter when they were weaned. Many cats do it even if they grow up in the same house along with their mom.

I Put a Scent on You

There are other reasons why cats knead, though. Cats have scent glands near their cheeks, at the base of their tail and — you guessed it — in the pads of their paws. Kneading a blanket, a pillow or your stomach as you lie on the couch watching Netflix together leaves behind a trace of your cat’s particular scent. She’s marked you and probably every soft thing in the house as hers, and she’s not wrong.

There’s another theory that this action comes from ancestral cats who lived outdoors, with nary a pillow or lap to their name. They would knead to trample any grasses and rough up the ground to make it soft enough for sleeping. It’s similar to the theory about why dogs turn around in circles before settling down to sleep.

When a cat uses her claws while she kneads your squishy flesh or your new couch, it’s tempting to punish her. But kneading is a natural behavior that means she’s happy, so punishment is not a great idea here. Instead, see if you can gently press your cat down to a laying position. She’ll likely go to sleep. If her kneading is problematic for your skin or upholstery, keep her claws trimmed or invest in plastic claw sheathes. And never declaw her.

If you have a contented feline lap warmer, you’ve no doubt been the beneficiary of the bonus kitty massage known as “kneading.” It’s as though your cat is practicing to bake bread. The way she rhythmically alternates her paws, pushing in and out against your lap, you’d imagine she’d actually be good at it too… until you think about biting into a bread slice full of cat hair. 😉

Since she’s obviously not baking bread (at least not while you’re home), why does your cat feel the need to knead? If you’ve ever wondered this, you’re not alone. In fact, lots of people who study cat behavior have asked this same question. And they’ve come up with a number of interesting theories.


Think about when your cat is most likely to knead. You’re probably petting her. She’s likely purring. Loudly. She might even drool a bit (although she’d never admit to it). Obviously she’s very content, and feeling the love. So kneading might be her way of helping you feel it too.

Unfortunately, that feeling might be more painful than pleasant for you… especially if she’s REALLY happy. Because the better she feels, the harder she’s likely to knead – and if her nails are long, you’ll know it. To avoid that feeling, cover your lap with a blanket or pillow before she perches.


Another kneading theory traces its roots to our domestic cats’ wild ancestors, who would knead grass to create a soft sleeping spot – sort of like the circling dogs do before they settle in. So if your cat is kneading your lap, sit back and relax… because that’s likely what she’s preparing to do.


A third theory looks to more recent history, specifically, your cat’s infancy. Cats actually start to knead instinctually as kittens, when they are nursing, to help stimulate their mothers’ milk. While your cat might be past nursing age, she might still enjoy that comforting, “food-is-love” feeling she associates with kneading.


Kneading might also be your cat’s way of actually “claiming” you. In other words, you’re not just being kneaded; you’re being marked – by the scent glands on the soft pads on the bottoms of their paws. Think of it as her way of showing she cares… enough to tell the rest of the feline world to keep their paws off you.


Finally, a kneading cat might just be a stretching cat. With so much power napping filling her day, your cat needs to take a break now and then to stay limber… at least until her next scheduled snooze.

At the end of the day, an explanation for why cats knead may not be as straightforward as you’d expect. Then again, these are the kinds of mysteries that hopefully make you love your cat even more. Sometimes the best things are hard to explain. And when the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies, don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love? Wouldn’t you love somebody to knead? You better find somebody to knead.


Associate Professor, The University of Queensland

Disclosure statement

Rachel Allavena does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Queensland provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

Companion animals are part of our families, but inevitably the time comes for us to say goodbye to them due to old age or disease.

Many pet lovers opt to bury their pets in the backyard. However, there are some hidden risks to this, and there are other options that will help other pets, and even the owners who love them.

Donating their body to science, for research and veterinary training, can potentially help hundreds of pets.

Why the backyard isn’t best

Backyard burial may seem like the easiest way to respectfully take care of your pet’s remains. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for other pets and wildlife. Most pets are put to sleep with an extremely concentrated anaesthetic agent, which results in a very peaceful death (hence the term euthanasia, which means “good death”). However this drug, pentobarbital, persists in the buried body of the pet for up to a year. Any animal scavenging on the remains will be poisoned by the euthanasia solution.

I have seen two cases in my career where this has happened, with serious consequences. In one case a family had their pet mouse put down and buried it in the backyard. The family’s terrier dug up and ate the mouse, and was comatose in intensive care for nearly a week. In another case, two farm dogs scavenged some bones from a cow which had been euthanased on a farm months before. One dog died and the other was seriously ill for several days.

If your pet dies of a disease which could be spread to other animals or even people, their body might also pose a risk. While vaccination has reduced the amount of dangerous pet diseases in the community, some diseases like parvovirus still occur in outbreaks and are very hardy and spread readily between dogs.

This virus causes severe and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal disease in puppies and young dogs. Thankfully there are not many diseases we can catch from our pets, but some – such as salmonellosis and toxoplasmosis – can make sensitive people very ill.

What do to instead

One option is pet crematoriums and cemeteries, which are available in most large cities and regional centres in Australia. The services are very professional and cover a variety of options and price ranges that suit most pet owners. Costs may vary with the size of the pet.

Professional burial or cremation avoids the risks of environmental contamination or disease that might occur with backyard burial. For my own pets which have passed away, I chose cremation which typically costs A$200-300, and then buried their ashes under a memorial tree in my garden.

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet them

However, there is another path. As a veterinary pathologist, my job is to conduct autopsies on animals to determine their cause of death. We also use the knowledge and samples we get from the autopsies to conduct research to improve our understanding of diseases and treatments in both animals and people.

Our pets make excellent “models” of diseases in both pets and people, allowing scientists to study the development and progression of a disease and develop new treatments.

Cancer is the most common cause of death for pet dogs. Many popular breeds get the same cancer at high rates, providing ample valuable research material. These dog cancers are similar in appearance, behaviour, treatments and genetic causes to many human cancers.

What’s more, because dogs share our home environments, but age faster and show more rapid cancer progression than humans, studying dogs provides faster research results. In the United States, dog cancer trials are already informing trials on new human treatments.

Another area where dogs are valuable scientific allies is in the study of rare genetic and developmental diseases in children. As we have bred dogs for specific appearances, from squishy-faced French bulldogs to lanky greyhounds, we have unwittingly created genetic abnormalities. Some of these are close counterparts of rare genetic disorders in children. Thus, dogs can be used to help identify the genetic mutations behind the disease, and how the faulty gene affects human children.

Universities have rigorous ethical reviews for this type of research. However, it is vital that we have the opportunity to take samples of both common and rare pet diseases to form tissue banks. Most of this sampling happens during an autopsy after the pet has died or been put to sleep. These tissue samples are used to research better treatments.

How to donate

If you are interested in donating your pet’s body, your veterinarian can direct you to potential local options. In most large cities this will be the veterinary school at the local university. Alternatively, you can contact the veterinary science school directly through their website or general enquiries telephone number.

Most schools are interested in all species for teaching. My institution takes everything from mice to horses, and exotic pets like snakes and lizards. All these species provide opportunities to learn about their anatomy and diseases.

Beyond helping us research human diseases, veterinary schools need pet body donors to help teach anatomy, surgery and pathology. At its most ethical this training is done on the bodies of animals that have died from natural causes.

Donated pets provide my students with a valuable understanding of how disease affects the body. Further, we report the autopsy findings back to the pet’s veterinarian. This information is crucial to vets who want to confirm diagnoses, and for giving grieving owners some closure.

If you do opt to bury your euthanased pet, please consider enclosing their remains in a container that would prevent other animals accessing the body. Many local councils also have restrictions on pet burial, and it is worth looking at your local area’s guidelines.

Ultimately though, I would urge you to donate your pet’s body to science. The loss of a pet can be heartbreaking, but there are many ways to create a meaningful legacy from that loss which helps both pets and people.

If you’ve ever had a cat snuggle up in your lap for a nap, you know that she’ll push her paws up and down until she’s found the perfect spot, but why do cats knead?

Cats display seemingly odd behavior at times, as pet parents soon discover. Cat kneading is one of the most common and perhaps one of the most misunderstood of these distinct behavioral traits—no one can say exactly why cats knead their human family members, but there are some compelling theories out there.

First of all, what is cat kneading?

Why do cats lift their bum when you pet themA cat kneads in much the same way a baker works bread dough, using a pushing motion with her front paws, alternating between left and right. In fact, the act of cat kneading commonly is referred to as “kneading dough” or “making bread/biscuits.” Not all cats knead, and some cats do so infrequently. She may even bite at the sheets or blanket while kneading. Each cat is unique in her habits.

Are you my mommy?

One of the most widely held beliefs is that domesticated cats retain their kitten instincts. Kittens knead their mothers to stimulate milk production for nursing, and as PetMD explains, “even though kneading a soft surface doesn’t yield milk, adult cats forever associate the motion of kneading with the rewarding comfort of nursing.” Kneading a human, therefore, might be a cat’s way of showing her love and affection for you. Despite being a full-grown adult cat, your fur baby remains just that—your baby.

Can there be too much kneading?

In addition to kneading as a way to show affection, a cat may knead as a way to self-soothe, too, because it can provide a great comfort. But is it too often? If she’s alone for long period of time, for example, she’ll amp up the kneading when you are home, says Petcha, so “try spending more one-on-one quality time with her. Play with your cat, brush her, or just hold her and talk to her in a loving tone of voice every day.” This will help her to de-stress.

If your cat begins kneading obsessively, it may be a sign that something with her is amiss, in which case you should contact your veterinarian.

Do cats only knead people?

Cats will sometimes knead on soft surfaces like blankets or their preferred napping location to get into a comfortable position. This is another wild instinct that domesticated cats retain, giving them the important skill of creating a cozy, safe space in which to get some rest or give birth while hidden away from the dangers of predators. Additionally, this serves as a way for cats to mark their territory, so cat kneading may also be your kitty’s way of telling you that it’s actually her bed, not yours.

Can I train my cat not to knead?

It’s a wonderful bonding moment when your cat kneads your lap while you’re sitting on the couch, but even when she uses a gentle motion, it can be painful if her claws aren’t trimmed. Or, perhaps her claws snag your clothes, the blankets or couch, and you want to keep your possessions from wear and tear while keeping your kitty from getting stuck.

What you don’t want to do, however, is prevent your cat from kneading entirely. She’s not misbehaving: it’s a natural instinct for which cats need an outlet. But there are ways you can protect your stuff and let your cat happily knead away.

Keeping her claws trimmed, an important part of regular cat grooming, will decrease snags and scratches. If you don’t want her to knead people, you can train her to knead dedicated blankets or towels by moving her gently to these items at the moment she begins to knead, thereby redirecting her to the designated spot. It may take a while, but she’ll learn.

Why do cats knead? Cats love their pet parents, and if you’re the chosen one, you’re on the receiving end of a loving gesture.