Why do cats do the bunny kick?

Feline bunny kick
Feline bunny kick. Picture in the public domain on Pinterest and Tumblr.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The amusing video of cats versus a mechanical fish shows the bunny kick in all its gory glory! You have to clear the Adsense ads out but it is there; mildly done in this instance because this attractive cat is playing rather tepidly. There is not a huge amount of enthusiam. So looking at the video what do you think the purpose of the bunny kick is? The cat is raking her hind claws over the “prey”. It can be a very forceful action and quite desctructive. There is therefore only one possible reason: to assist in the killing of prey. This aspect of feline killing behavior can only suite relative large prey such as rabbits. Domestic cats kill mice with a single bite to the head.

A lot of cat guardians have been trapped into being at the receiving end of the feline bunny kick. You know the scenario. You overtimulate your cat with your hand. She grabs it with her forelegs and holds on tightly because in that moment she is fully stimulated. There is a reluctance to let go. She then curls up slightly and rakes your arm with her hind legs. It can hurt. She is killing your forearm and hand! The best thing to do is not to try and wrestle your hand free as it is likely to make things worse as she’ll hold on more firmly. Relax your arm and distract her with your free arm and hand. When she is momentarily distracted quickly but gently remove your battered arm and hand.

My cat has employed the bunny kick on a paraquet but no other prey animal that he has caught has been large enough for it to be effective. The bunny kick is often used when a domestic cat plays as I am sure you know. It is great fun for them. Very destructive. It is said that it is best to buy cat toys that can be destroyed by a cat as it is more real. Cats becomes less bored with toys that they can rake to bits with their bunny kicks. The downside is that when the toy is categorically dead you have to buy and new one. Ah well, the price of considerate cat caretaking.

A fortunate aspect of the bunny kick is that a domestic cat’s claws of the hind legs are normally blunter than the forepaw claws. This is probably because the outer sheaths are not deliberately sloughed off to sharpen them by scratching a scratching post. If a cat is an indoor/outdoor cat the claws are blunted by use (friction on the ground). A small advantage to letting a cat go outside. There are downsides as we know.

Note: Sometimes videos don’t work because they have been removed at source. I am not warned. If that has happened I am sorry.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “Why do cats do the bunny kick?”

  1. Last year while i was away from home my 13 year old Long hair original Persian “Matahari” destroyed my “laptab” by doing the “Bunny Kick” clutching onto the closed instrument.It got dissected into two and luckily being a “LAPTAB” i can still use one half of the dissected computer.Today i mostly use it for viewing films, etc during the imposed “Coronavirus-2020” lockdown and work from home restrictions.She normally has the habbit of occasionally clutching onto cushions etc and kicking her legs and sadly one fine day my “LAPTAB” became the victim.Be careful of expensive delicate instruments like laptops, etc if you have a cat or cat’s in your house. Below is a file photo of her thinking the next move.

    1. Thank you for your interesting story Rudolph. I appreciate it. It is a good example of the bunny kick and I’m sorry that your possession was destroyed. I hope that you are well and your cats.

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