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).
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:
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