“Maybe she’s been into Yoga this entire time?”, a thought crosses your mind as you notice your cat stretching her back legs. “You go, girl!”, you give her a little pat on the back hoping she understands you support her Olympics endeavors. Oh, she would be the winner of an Olympic event for stretching!
And, you know better than to judge her moves (it’s 2022, for God’s sake!) But, that’s not to say that you haven’t spent hours overthinking and overanalyzing everything she does before the stretch. The meowing, the purring, the sneering, and everything else she does when she’s happy.
Or, at least you hope that’s a happy stretch! You’re happy every time you wake up and you do your little dancy-dance in the bed before you get up and make yourself a coffee; why wouldn’t she be happy? You’re pretty sure cats stretch for the same reasons humans do – and you’re right.
Stretching after a good night’s sleep (or a nap) feels absolutely amazing! Stretching helps them wake up and become alert, increases their blood flow, and protects them against injuries.
As a matter of fact, their brain paralyzes most of their muscles while they’re asleep to prevent them from twitching, turning, or sleepwalking! And, stretching helps them wake their muscles up and get on with their day.
But, as you might have suspected, that’s not the only reason why you notice your cat stretching her back legs every now and then. Oh, she does way too many weird things for this one to turn out to be that… tame!
Attention-seeking behavior doesn’t seem to be an unknown turf for her. But, that’s not to say that you understand everything she does (no offense). Cats are weird, but we’re here to help you appreciate the weirdness! Let’s go!
The cat stretches galore – Why does my cat stretch so much?
Oh boy, your munchkin’s waking up from her twelfth nap of the day and you know what that means! She’s about to stretch and sprawl her little body (and make the most adorable purrs and chirps as she goes about her Yoga routine). And, you’re about to leave whether you were doing and admire her for a minute or two!
Cats do stuff like that all the time! Now, the “stretching their back legs” routine does wonder for their posture and the overall health of their body.
But, that’s not to say that they only stretch their legs – because they don’t. As a matter of fact, your fluffy friend performs a bunch of different stretches throughout her day.
And, you might want to get your iPhone out of your pocket. These stretches trend on TikTok every. single. day!
First things first, your furry friend stretches her front legs! And, more often than not, these two stretches perform a duet. First, she props on her little paws to stretch the front ones, and then she does a little switch to the back ones. Adorable, right?!
On the other hand, we can’t forget about the “Halloween stretch” that earned the name because she looks like a zombie whenever she does one! But, the Halloween stretch shouldn’t scare you because she’s simply arching her back and getting some blood circulation going.
Oh and, we absolutely can’t overlook the “rolling on her back with her paws up” stretch because that one’s our favorite! And, this one looks exactly like what you’re picturing – your four-legged friend on her back, rolling on the floor with her little paws swishing in the air. But…
Why’s my cat stretching her back legs?
Oh, the stretching of the back legs can mean a million different things! Maybe because she’s happy to see you? Maybe because she’s trying to get that endorphin rush? Or, maybe because she’s getting ready to attack you?
Don’t worry, we’re bringing you a bunch of pawsibilites you can choose from. On the off chance that you’re not happy with what you’ve discovered, you can contact your vet and check whether something’s wrong with her. Let’s start from the beginning, why don’t we?
1. She wants those endorphins!
“Hmm, why’s my cat stretching her back legs? I’m not worried about it that much because it doesn’t seem like something I should be worried about. But, I can’t help but wonder what’s the point?” Oh, stretching feels good! Don’t tell me you don’t stretch the moment that you wake up?!
Trust me, that’s one of the main culprits for your fluffy friend doing different Yoga poses throughout different times of the day.
She takes naps every forty-five minutes, doesn’t she? And, she does her stretches every time she wakes up, doesn’t she? Oh, you thought her stretches didn’t make sense, didn’t you?
And, don’t forget that every time she stretches her back legs she releases the tension she has throughout her entire body – her shoulders, her back, and even her little head. Oh and, stretching gives her that endorphin kick that makes her feel like everything’s right.
Downward dog? More like the downward cat, don’t you think?
Whatever the reason might be, stretching makes your fluffy friend feel happy and healthy. Word of advice, when you see her waking up from a nap or doing a big yawn don’t shy away from stretching with her! That way the two of you can have a moment of bonding AND do something good for your health!
2. She’s showing you her affection
Oh, your boisterous beast doesn’t seem to be as boisterous when showing her affection towards you, does she?
Cats are pretty subtle and reserved when showing emotions. But, that’s not to say you’ve never wondered whether your cat stretching her back legs whenever she sees you has something to do with that.
And, we’re here to give you the scoop – it does! As a matter of fact, most ways cats show affection are perplexing and confusing to most pet parents (and humans who aren’t pet parents). “What do you mean she’s licking my blanket when I’m sleeping because she loves me?!”
Or, “What do you mean she’s meowing my ears off because she’s happy to see me?!” Oh, and we can’t forget my personal favorite “What do you mean she’s flashing her butt at me ALL THE TIME because she wants to hang out with me?!“ You know what we’re talking about because you’ve probably witnessed each one of them!
Trust me; there’s a big chance your furry friend’s stretching her back legs whenever she sees you because she’s showing you her love and devotion. Mostly, the stretching’s accompanied by meowing, chirping, and even pawing at your legs to lift her up and snuggle her to death! Argh, how adorable!
3. She’s asking for attention
“Why’s my cat stretching her back legs every time she sees me walking into the room or going about my day? Not that I mind her doing that, but I’m wondering whether she wants something from me?”. She sure does, and she probably wants attention.
Cats are absolutely adorable when they’re in a loving and affectionate mood (and God knows that’s not that often). They become cuddlier and snugglier than usual. They start meowing, purring, and staring at you without breaking eye contact.
Oh, and they start knocking things off the table and again, not breaking eye contact while they’re doing that. Whatever strategy your furry friend goes for, she’s asking for your attention (and you better take the opportunity and snuggle her).
When she stretches her back legs and makes eye contact, pick her up and give her some sugar (not literally, cats can’t have sugar). And voilà, you have one happy and healthy kitty!
4. Oh, she’s happy to see you!
Now, you might think something along the lines of “How’s that any different from showing me affection or asking for attention?” And, we’re here to say that there’s a big difference between the two. Especially when you’re a pet parent to a precious purrincess that’s not always in the mood to snuggle.
When she’s showing you affection that’s not to say that she wants you to give her belly rubs (she might want to, but it’s not a given). Or, when she’s asking for attention that’s not to say that she won’t scratch your eyeballs out the moment that you touch the wrong spot on her belly.
And, when she’s stretching her legs because she’s happy to see you that’s not to say that she wants you to do anything. She’s simply greeting you with her little butt in the air saying “Oh, hello human! You have arrived and that pleases me so here’s my butt. You can stay here if you want to, I won’t mind.”
That’s pretty much the way every cat speaks, right?
5. “It’s getting hot in here…”
“Why’s my cat stretching her back legs? I haven’t been paying that much attention to what she’s doing while I’m working, but I’ve taken notice of the fact that every once in a while she gets up, stretches her legs, and goes back to napping. That’s odd, right?” Odd for you, but not that odd for her, as it turns out!
Have you considered the pawsibility she’s stretching because she’s trying to cool off? While a cat’s fluff is responsible for body temperature regulation, that’s not to say that your fluffy friend doesn’t get hot – especially during the summer when the temperatures go through the roof.
And, while your four-legged friend’s napping on the floor or on her blanket she might feel a little overheated. Getting up and stretching her back legs helps her cool down a little bit – she might even shake her butt, lick her fluff, and walk around the room before coming back to her napping spot.
Oh, you have nothing to worry about! Help her out by wiping her with a damp cloth, providing her with plenty of fresh water, and grooming her regularly to get rid of any excess fluff that might be causing her to overheat.
6. She’s trying to wake up
“Oh, really? Who would’ve thought?” While waking up might sound like the most obvious reason ever, we can’t overlook the fact that many pet parents freak out when presented with their pet’s odd behavior. Oh, and when they freak out they forget about the simplest of explanations – such as “she’s simply trying to wake up.”
Cats spend a lot of time sleeping, napping, and lounging around. As a matter of fact, they spend as much as 12 to 13 hours of their day doing these “activities.” Even more as they get older or feel under the weather. And, they don’t really get that amount of sleep at once but rather in short bursts of 60 to 90 minutes at a time.
So, every time they wake up they feel the need to stretch and wake up. As we mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, stretching helps them release the tension and gives them an endorphin kick.
And, trust me, that endorphin kick really helps them continue with their day after waking up – they don’t snooze the day away like we do!
7. She wants to play!
“Cats just wanna have fun…” That might not be the way that song goes. But, it’s certainly one of the ways you can go about this whole “cat stretching back legs” thing. Now, you might think “What does stretching have anything to do with playing?!”
But, we’re here to say that stretching can (and does) mean that your cat’s ready for playtime. When you think about that for a minute, you might remember that cats have different ways of communicating what they want.
And, when they’re looking to play they typically show you that through body language.
For example, your fluffy friend might perk up her ears when she sees you with her favorite stuffed mouse. Or, she might start walking around you with her head up and her tail high (which is pretty much the universal sign for “I’m in a good mood!”)
Now, go play with her, why don’t you?!
8. Oh, that’s her defense mechanism!
You’ve heard of the “stalk, run, and pounce” hunting tactic most cats employ? But, have you heard of the “pretend you’re doing something else before you attack” defense mechanism?
That’s right; your furry friend might stretch her back legs every now and then to make sure she can get to running the moment that she notices a threat.
Now, there probably aren’t threats while she’s sleeping on your bed or lounging on the living room floor. But, her predatory history doesn’t function that way – she stays alert regardless of the fact that there’s nothing that could hurt her.
Actually, she might stretch her back legs the moment that she notices your neighbor approaching the porch. Or the moment that she hears your phone ringing. Or even the moment that one of your friends drops by announced.
And that’s completely fine – she’s simply making sure nobody hurts her (or you) while she’s sleeping.
9. She’s marking her territory
“Why’s my cat stretching her back legs every time she gets up from a nap? Or every time she enters the room? She’s adorable when she does that (she always lets out a little purr), but isn’t that weird?” Actually, that’s not weird at all.
One of the main reasons why cats do a bunch of “weird things” seems so to be marking the territory. “But, why does she need to mark her territory? She’s the only cat here!” We hear you, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t really care that she’s the only one there. She needs everyone who enters the household to know that she’s the boss.
And, stretching her back legs isn’t even the only way she marks her territory! Nope, more times than not, she’s headbutting you and the furniture, she’s rubbing her butt on the carpet or the bed, she’s scratching things, she’s leaving her poop ON TOP of the litter box, and licking everything she can get her paws on.
10. She’s getting ready to attack her prey
Play aggression seems REAL when your mischievous monster’s getting ready to attack you! Don’t even try to say you haven’t noticed her staring at you, following every move you make, getting up to stretch her back legs, and jumping at you at the speed of light! Cats don’t mess around when they’re attacking their prey!
So, we can’t overlook the fact that she might be stretching her back legs because she’s going through her hunting phase. Regardless of the fact that she lives in an apartment and has nothing to hunt…
When you notice her ears glued to her head, tail flailing from side to side, eyes opened as wide as they can be, and a bunch of growling – RUN!
When does the “cat stretching back legs” thing become a problem?
Pretty much never? Here’s the thing, stretching doesn’t seem to have anything to do with health problems or any other medical emergencies.
More times than not, your fluffy friend’s stretching her back legs because she’s happy to see you, because she’s enjoying the feeling that gives her, or because she’s getting ready to attack.
But, on the off chance that you have a reason to be worried about the whole stretching thing, don’t shy away from consulting with your vet. You’re ALWAYS better off being safe than sorry, and your vet should be able to ease your mind. Good luck!