Why Do Cats Arch Their Backs? [Answered]

Cats are fascinating creatures with many unique behaviours, one of which is arching their backs. This behaviour can be seen in both domestic and wild cats, and it’s often a sign of different emotions or actions.

You must know the situation in order to determine “why do cats arch their backs”. What was going through your cat’s thoughts as he arched his back? Did there happen to be a thunderclap at that point? Have you seen a stray cat loitering around your pet’s favourite hangout?

Cats arch their backs as a way to stretch their muscles and prepare for action. It can also be a sign of fear, aggression or pain. Arching their back makes them appear larger, which can be a defensive tactic to ward off potential threats. Cats may also use this body language when they want to be petted or when they want to play. It is a natural behaviour for cats and can be a way to communicate their emotions and intentions to other animals and humans.

As I proceed through the article, I will discuss various situations in which a cat arches its back, such as happy, angry, stressed, or scared. Keep reading to learn more.

Reasons Why Do Cats Arch Their Backs

Anatomy of a Cat’s Back

Before we dive into the reasons why cats arch their back, it is essential to understand the anatomy of their spine. A cat’s spine is made up of 30 vertebrae, which are flexible and designed to allow them to move in various directions in ways that we can only dream of. Each vertebra is separated by an intervertebral disc, which acts as a shock absorber and allows for smooth movement.

Reasons Why Do Cats Arch Their Backs

Cats are known for their unique body language, including their tendency to arch their backs. This behaviour is fascinating to observe, but it also raises questions about why cats do this. Let’s explore some of the main reasons:

1. Stretching and Exercise

One reason why cats arch their back is to stretch their muscles. If your kitten has just awoken from a nap, it may arch their backs and stretch their bodies to re-energize its circulation and straighten out its muscles. If you’re lucky, this will be accompanied by a massive yawn.

This behaviour is similar to how humans stretch when they wake up in the morning or after sitting at a desk for a long time.

2. Cat is Angry

cats may arch their back as a display of aggression. This behaviour is usually accompanied by other signs of aggression, such as hissing, growling, and swatting. When cats arch their back in this manner, it is a warning to other cats or animals to stay away.

When a cat is displeased about anything or just wants to be left alone, it may arch its back, hiss, and shy away from the source of its misery. It might be a distaste for the family dog or a strange stranger working in the neighbourhood.

If your cat is agitated, it’s best to leave them alone until they cool down, otherwise, you’ll have claws on your hands.

Also, Check Out: Do Cats Get Mad At You?

3. Cat is Terrified

Cats may also arch their back when they are feeling terrified or extremely scared. This can be a defensive posture that makes them appear larger and more intimidating to potential threats. In such situations, cats may:

  • Flatten their ears, widen their eyes
  • Spitting and/or displaying its teeth in some way.
  • Its hair should stand on end and point up towards the heavens.
  • Hiss and snarl to show discontent.
  • Their tail is coiled and curled downwards between their thighs.
  • Thump its tail when lying down.

It is important to address the source of the fear and provide a safe and comforting environment for the cat to reduce their stress levels. When they realise there is no genuine risk, they resume their daily routine as if nothing had happened.

4. Expressing Excitement Or Happiness

Cats also arch their back to express excitement or happiness. When cats are excited or feeling good, they may arch their back and raise their tail in a friendly greeting. This behaviour is a sign that your cat is comfortable and relaxed in their surroundings and feels safe and secure.

If you touch your cat’s back and see them arching, that’s a sign of happiness. They’re arching into your palm as if they’d like you to scratch them once again.

You can watch their bodies arch and their butt perform a slight boop when you move your palm from the top of their head to the tip of their tail.

5. They Are Playing

Cats may arch their back during playtime. This behaviour is often seen in kittens, who will arch their back and puff out their fur when engaging in play with their littermates.

Adult cats may also exhibit this behaviour during playtime, particularly when engaging in hunting games.

6. Your Cat is in Heat

If your cat is female and has not been spayed, she may arch her back when she is in heat. This is because female cats in heat will often assume a position called the lordosis reflex, which involves arching the back and raising the hindquarters.

The lordosis reflex is a signal to male cats that the female is ready to mate. This behaviour is accompanied by other signs of heat, such as increased vocalization, restlessness, and rubbing against objects. If you do not want your cat to become pregnant, it is important to have her spayed as soon as possible.

7. Back Pain

While less common, another reason that a cat may arch its back is if it is experiencing abdominal pain. Walking with their backs arched may be more comfortable for them because of their discomfort. 

This behaviour is often seen in older cats that have arthritis or other joint problems. If you notice your cat arching its back more than usual, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying health issue.

8. Urine Marking

Cats may also arch their backs as a form of urine marking. This behaviour is more commonly seen in male cats, who will spray urine on vertical surfaces to mark their territory.

When a cat arches its back while urine marking, it is usually accompanied by a tail twitch and a spraying motion. This behaviour can be frustrating for cat owners, but it is important to remember that it is a natural instinct for cats.

9. Delimitation of Territories

Some cats may arch their backs when they are scent rubbing. Scent rubbing is a behaviour in which a cat rubs its head or cheeks on objects in order to leave behind its scent.

Cats are territorial creatures who utilise their sense of scent to communicate with their owners and mark their territory. This behaviour is perfectly normal for cats and helps them to mark their territory and makes them feel protected and secure, as well as lets other cats in the neighbourhood know that they are the owners of the territory.

Can I Train My Cat Not to Arch Its Back?

No, you cannot train your cat not to arch its back. Arching their back is a natural behaviour for cats that serves various purposes such as stretching their muscles, expressing emotions like fear or aggression, and preparing for a fight or play.

When My Cat Arches Its Back, what should I do

Trying to train your cat not to arch its back would go against its natural instincts and could potentially cause them stress and discomfort. It’s important to understand and respect your cat’s natural behaviours and find ways to accommodate them instead of trying to change them.

If you have any concerns about your cat’s behaviour, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviourist who can provide you with more information and guidance.

When My Cat Arches Its Back, what should I do?

Petting a cat that is frightened and arching his back is not a good idea. Slowly back away from the cat to give him his space.

The most crucial thing to do is evaluate your cat’s entire body language in order to determine which of the following replies is most likely. 

The followings are Some Self-Reflection Questions and Actions to Consider:

Is my Cat Displaying Aggressive Behaviour?

Hissing and spitting, for instance, or keeping their tail down and blowing up their fur? Here, your cat is most likely terrified and should be left alone. Allowing your cat to relax by moving away from you is a smart idea.

When I Pet My Cat, Does it Arch Its Back and Exhibit Symptoms of Dissatisfaction?

A beating tail, dilated pupils, and tight body posture, for example. Your cat may be overstimulated. Begin to move away from your cat once you’ve stopped caressing it.

Is it conceivable that My Cat is Waking up from a Catnap?

Is my cat relaxed and stretching his or her muscles? In this case, allow them to extend their entire body without being interrupted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for cats to arch their backs?

Yes, it’s completely normal for cats to arch their backs. Cats do this for a variety of reasons, including stretching, communicating, and defending themselves.

Can cats learn to arch their backs on command?

It’s unlikely that cats can learn to arch their backs on command, as this behaviour is usually instinctual or a response to a specific situation. However, you can encourage your cat to stretch and exercise by providing them with plenty of opportunities to play and climb.

Why do cats arch their backs when you pet them?

Cats may arch their backs when you pet them as a way to show affection and stretch their back muscles. This behaviour is often accompanied by purring, which indicates that the cat is enjoying the interaction.

Why do cats arch their back and run sideways?

When a cat runs sideways with its back arched, it may be displaying playful behaviour. Your cat is asking you to play with them. Get out their favourite toys and start a play session with them to let them relieve their pent-up energy.

This is often seen in kittens who are playing with each other, but adult cats may also exhibit this behaviour when they are feeling playful.

What does it mean when a cat arches its back and puts its tail up?

When a cat arches its back and puts its tail up, it is often a sign of excitement or arousal. This behaviour may be seen in cats who are about to play or hunt, or in cats who are feeling amorous.

Is cat back arching always a sign of aggression?

No, cats can arch their back for many reasons, including stretching their muscles, displaying their hindquarters, and expressing excitement or happiness.

Final Verdict!

The cat’s body language is highly developed, including an arched back. He arches his back to show that he feels threatened, as well as to stretch out his sleepy muscles after a snooze.

Your cat may be overstimulated or in discomfort due to a skin sensitivity problem or sickness. When walking, a persistently arched back might signal a more serious injury or medical condition that causes pain.

Because there are so many possibilities, you must pay close attention to the rest of your cat’s body language. This will provide you with more information about their mental condition and assist you in determining your next best line of action.

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LearnAboutCat Author Isabella

Who is Isabella?

My name is Isabella, and I am a dedicated and knowledgeable cat enthusiast. With years of experience caring for cats and a deep love for felines, I made a mission to help other cat lovers navigate the challenges of cat ownership.

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