What Does It Mean When a Cat Arches Its Back?

Your cat may be threatened or blissful when her back is arched.

Your cat may be threatened or blissful when her back is arched.

If only you understood all of your cat's little quirks, like making a tall tent out of her back. Until you're ready to learn "Meow," you might have to use your best guess to glean her deepest thoughts, and science's best estimate of why she acts the way she does.

Hello, I Love You

An arched back may be a simple form of accepting affection. Your cat may be saying, "yes, come closer please," if she raises her spine in response to your stroking hand. If that's the case, you'll know pretty quickly: the arched back will probably be followed up with a purr and a head butt of your hand.

In A Moment, I Will Attack

Raised hair, outstretched claws and flattened ears combined with the arched back mean your cat feels threatened. The posture makes her look larger and lets predators know she has muscle, she has sharp claws and she has teeth -- and she's willing to use them. This is your cat: just before she gets into a scuffle.

The Post-Sleepytime Stretch

An arched back can also happen in that moment when, after hours of dream time near a sunny window, your cat simply has to come back to reality. Like you, your cat needs to stretch after a long sleep. She may stretch out her legs along the floor and, yes, arch her back high into the air.

Sometimes It's A Mystery

Sometimes your kitty seems to wink at you -- because she knows she's doing something that you're trying desperately to figure out. A spontaneous arch of the back may be just that: a spontaneous arch of the back. She's doing it just because she can -- and she may just feel like playing with your head a bit.

 

About the Author

Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).

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