Why do cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them?

Intro 15th Aug 2017: this was written around 8 years ago when Charlie was in my life. He has now passed. People ask: Why do cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them? This page is my answer to that question. It probably differs from other answers on the internet. I have updated the page (used past tense).

Charlie just after being stroked down his back! His back is very strong to compensate for having only 3 legs

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Above: Charlie just after being stroked down his back! His back was very strong to compensate for having only 3 legs.

Yes, my cat used to stick his rear in the air with an upright tail, when stroked. I am talking about Charlie, my three legged boy cat. The picture above shows the acute angle at which he pretty well immediately places his derriere when you stroke his lower back.

I have not seen such an acute angle before in other cats, although my female cat raised her back slightly as if it is a response to downward pressure. But this is something else.

I should think that the regular visitors know the reason why Charlie used to stick his rear in the air but it is not that obvious.

From the cat’s point of view, our relationship with our cat is built on the basis that we are a mother cat and our cat remains our kitten. That view is somewhat contentious but probably true. It is the basis for this theory.

When we stroke our cat our hand is a giant mother’s tongue (cats live in a land of giants) licking him or her. When a mother cat licks her offspring she also checks out her offspring’s rear end. For young kittens the mother also licks her kitten’s anus to stimulate bowel movement, something vital to health.

Bearing in mind that our cats, adult or otherwise, are perpetual kittens in our relationship with them, our stroking immediately prompts the automatic response of presenting his or her rear end for inspection.

The tail is lifted to facilitate this. It looks a bit rude in our sanitised nature-distant world but it is beautifully natural and very functional. That is the theory. Do you have one?

P.S. I have talked about cat stroking in a number of posts:

From My Cat Sticks his Rear in the Air when Stroked to Cat Facts

Comments for Why do cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them? These comments are 7+ years old! I’d like some new ones please ๐Ÿ™‚

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Dec 21, 2010same
by: AnonymousLol my cat Leo does it to so i go rear end!

Dec 27, 2009Jozef
by: RoseROFLO

Dec 26, 2009Mine does it too…
by: Kelly Baez, from DR My Money does this as well, but no as much as your charlie. It’s good to know why!! thank you Michael.

Dec 26, 2009Response
by: Michael Jozef, LOL (big time!) — you are right. I thought about this for a while but Charlie doesn’t mind because it is natural to him (I hope!).

Finn, I didn’t think about why his position was so extreme but you must be correct. It makes sense. Thanks for that insight.

Dec 26, 2009Keeping his balance
by: Finn Frode, Denmark Hi Michael. The angle Charlie presents is about the most extreme I have ever seen, but has clearly to do with keeping his balance on one front leg only.
I’ve often wondered about this reaction. With queens in heat the meaning is obvious, but it also appears with neutered and spayed cats of both sexes.

Your simple explanation makes perfectly good sense to me – thanks a lot. From now on nobody has to be ashamed to stroke their cats in public anymore. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dec 26, 2009It’s private
by: Jozef Excuse me but I do that too when my mammies stroke my lower back, although I don’t stick my bum as high in the air as your Charlie does in that picture.

We have our reasons for everything we do and you’ll never truly know what they are as some things have to remain personal and private amongst us macho boy cats, if you don’t mind!

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “Why do cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them?”

  1. Cats do that to show trust! Their butt is the most vulnerable part of their body, and when they show it to you, that means they trust you.

    1. Yes there is that too but I think my explanation for this particular behavior is correct. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Mina.

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