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What Does a Cat’s Arched Back Mean?


We’re not talking about the popular yoga position. What does a cat’s arched back mean?

Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out what your cat is trying to tell you or what she’s feeling. But these amazing little creatures say quite a bit through their body language. So, by getting to know more about feline body language, you might be able to understand your kitty better, and that can help you better respond to her needs as well.

What’s a cat thinking and feeling when she arches her back? Well, there are a few different emotions that could cause this classic feline stance, and we cover them below.

It Might Be Fright

If your kitty’s feeling threatened, she might arch her spine. In this case, her fur will likely also be sticking up, to the point that her tail will look puffed. Between the arched back and the fur sticking up, you can see that this is a cat’s attempt at looking bigger and tougher. There might even be a sideways stance, or your kitty might start growling or hissing. The goal is to make herself look scary enough to avoid a fight, while also letting her threat know that she’s ready to defend herself if necessary.

What should you do if your cat is arching her back because she’s scared and defensive? It’s probably best to keep your distance until she calms down. Her body language is asking for space, so give your kitty some time to realize there isn’t anything to be afraid of after all.

It Might Be Playfulness

When kittens play, they sometimes arch their backs, and even hop around at the same time. They might do this when playing with each other, or they may even behave this way towards a toy or the person that they’re playing with. It’s entertaining, for sure, and this is their way of learning and growing up to be confident cats.

If a kitty looks happy and isn’t displaying other signs of aggression, like hissing or showing teeth, you can probably assume that the arched back is just related to playing, so you won’t need to make it a point to keep your distance. You might even be able to engage in the play session so your pet can practice defending herself.

It’s Also a Great Stretch

Arching the back serves as an effective stretch that helps cats keep their bodies nice and flexible. After taking a long nap, your cat will get up and stretch her body out to loosen it up again, and arching her back will be part of her routine.

When your cat arches her back just to stretch, you’ll notice that she’s completely at ease, so there aren’t any signs of aggression or defensiveness. Of course, you won’t need to keep your distance, and your kitty might even ask to be petted or fed.

Cats say a lot through their body language. Often, it’s subtle, like the position of their ears and whiskers, while other times, it’s more obvious, like an arched back. So, the next time your kitty arches her back, you’ll be able to figure out what she’s feeling, and you’ll know how to proceed.

Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a writer who has volunteered in animal rescue, caring for cats of all ages and learning their many quirks. She is certified in clinical pet nutrition, and enjoys helping pet parents give their fur babies the best care possible. Read more of her work online at LSA Writing Services.


Watch the video: Why Do Cats Arch their Backs (September 2021).