Sam starts crawling across the floor, eyes glued on the fur mouse. He comes to a halt, eyes fully dilate, he wiggles his rear, and bam! He pounces that toy with lightning speed. Shaking his hindquarters is part of the pouncing process, and most cats are likely to do it.
Why Cats Pounce
While it looks cute when your kitty does it in play, pouncing is an innate hunting instinct in domestic felines. Just like his larger tiger cousin in the wild, your little ball of fur hunts. Sam isn't hunting to survive, but he still constantly perfects his skill by "killing" those furry toy mice or batting around that jingling ball. He'll be well-prepared in case he ever has to rough it in the jungle.
Watch Sam closely the next time he goes in for the hunt. Once he pounces on top of the furry mouse, he'll kick it up with his back feet, flicking it in the air so he can catch it in his mouth. He'll shake it to ensure it's dead, drop it on the ground, step on it and start the whole process all over again. Even though your mischievous companion is only playing with a toy, these behaviors mimic what he would do in the wild if he was trying to catch dinner.
Shaking his rear before the pounce is surely entertaining, but it also helps Sam's sprint. When cats walk or prance around the house, they alternate opposite legs. But when your kitty is gearing up for a hunt, he'll hunker down, get a solid balance on each paw, and make a jump with his front and back legs working together as two distinct pairs. This motion allows him to elongate his body and sprint across the room. Shaking his rear simply helps him get his balance, getting equal ground on all four feet, giving him an edge on his sprint. Think of your footing when you take an aerobics class. You probably do a little wiggling to get a solid balance before jumping up on the step, so both feet land at the same time.
Reading His Body Language
Watch Sam's body language before his rear starts shaking. He'll press his ears back, and his tail should be sticking straight out, alerting you that he is completely on edge and fully aware of all surroundings. These cues let you know that his rear-end wiggle is coming. After a successful attack, he may stick his tail up to the sky as he plays. If he sticks his tail back, whips it from side to side or puffs his tail, he's angry or possibly overstimulated. Let him take a breather before you reach down to pet him. Otherwise, you could be his next target.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.