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Why Do Cats Arch Their Back? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

black cat stretching

Our kitties have very limber bodies that they are constantly contorting into different positions. You’ve definitely seen your cat arch their back more than one time. And it might not even always be for the same reason. So what are the reasons that cats arch their backs?

The reasons probably won’t surprise you very much, but it is nice to know why our kitties behave the way they do. Here’s our list of the top five reasons why cats arch their back.

The 5 Reasons Why Cats Arch Their Back

1. Your Cat Is Stretching

If your lazy kitty just got up from a nap, they might arch their back and stretch their bodies as a means to straighten out their muscles and get all their blood flowing again. A big yawn might accompany this if you’re lucky.

Stretching is one of the most recognizable arches—and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t we all like to stretch out our bodies after we wake up to refresh ourselves?

orange cat arching its back
Photo Credit: Piqsels

2. Your Cat Is Frightened

If your cat is around something unfamiliar that they don’t like or are unsure about, they might arch their back to make themselves look bigger.

You might notice if they keep the stance until the perceived threat has either proven itself to be non-threatening, or it disappears completely. If the danger keeps moving closer to them, they might give it a good smack.

3. Your Cat Is Angry

If your cat is angry about something or is wanting someone to step off, they might arch their back, hiss, and back away from whatever it is that is causing them this kind of grief. It could be the family dog they don’t like, or an unfamiliar stranger working close by.

If you have an angry kitty, it’s best to leave them alone until they cool off—or you might get the claws.

tabby cat spraying outdoors to mark territory
Photo Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

4. Your Cat Is Spooked

Regardless of the offense, if there’s something that suddenly scares your cat, they might arch their back as a defense response. Usually, this is quick, accompanied by raised hair and terrified expressions. Once they see there is no real danger, they go back to normal like nothing ever happened.

You might notice this right away as the classic Halloween cat look.

5. Your Cat Is Enjoying a Good Pet Session

If you stroke your cats back and notice them arching, this is a symbol of pleasure. They are arching into your hand, meaning that they want you to keep scratching them.

You might notice as you take your hand from the top of their head to the tip of their tail, their bodies arch along with you, and their butt does a little boop.

cat lying on humans lap
Photo Credit: Piqsels

Cats Arching

Arching alone might be hard to decipher. But lucky for us, cat body language can often be really easy to pinpoint. They aren’t shy about their body language and other actions—letting you know if this arch is a sign of fright or affection.

So, when does your cat arch their back the most?

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Featured Image Credit: Pawel Grzegorz, Pixabay

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