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Why Do Cats Raise Their Butts When Scratched? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

a hand scratching the cat's butt

As a cat owner, you have probably noticed many strange things about your pet, but the way they often stick their butt in the air when you scratch them is one of the most amusing. If you have noticed your cat exhibiting this behavior and would like to find out what causes it keep reading. We will look at several reasons your cat might be raising its butt, and we’ll also discuss if it’s a good or a bad thing to help you understand your pet better.

The 4 Reasons Cats Raise Their Butts When Scratched

1. They’re Enjoying It

The most likely reason your cat raises its butt when you scratch the base of its tail is that it enjoys it. Raising the butt can help bring the nerves closer to the surface, making the target easier to hit. Cats also tend to stand still when they do this, so you don’t need to chase after them. Our cats also might start purring with the raised butt, reinforcing the cat’s belief that it enjoys it.

owner scratching cat's tail
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat is in Heat

If you did not get your female cat spayed and is raising her butt, there is a good chance she is going into heat. Allowing your cat outdoors at this time will almost guarantee a litter on the way, but keeping her inside is likely to cause serious damage to your home.  A female in heat will cover most surfaces with urine, and she might also resort to clawing the furniture.

3. Instinct

Kittens rely on their mothers for everything during their first few days, including grooming. One of the ways a kitten makes it easier on mom to keep them clean is by raising its butt in the air. Doing so makes it easier for the mother to clean them, and there is a good chance this behavior is a hold-over. Your hand may feel similar to its mother’s tongue when it was small, and it is engaging in the same behavior.

Ginger cat raising its butt
Image Credit: STGEEVES, Shutterstock

4. Communication

The Anal glands of a cat produce powerful pheromones that allow cats to communicate with each other, and you have likely seen cats sniffing each other’s butts as a greeting when they are friendly with each other.

There is a good chance that when your cat raises its butt toward you, it is its way of saying hello, and it invites you to take a sniff!

My Cat Doesn’t Raise Their Butt

If your cat doesn’t raise its butt or only raises it a small amount, there is no need to be concerned. Each cat is unique, and there are bound to be cats that don’t raise their butts when you pet them.

Some cats will go to great lengths to make sure you can’t pet them, and they may live their entire life this way. Other cats will lighten up and allow you to pet them after they get used to you, and you might witness that they raise their butts like the other cats when they are comfortable.

What if Scratching My Cat’s Butt Seems Painful?

If your cat seems to be experiencing pain when you scratch the base of its tail, we highly recommend taking it to the vet to have it looked over for potential health issues. Kidney stones, kidney disease, impacted anal glands, spinal problems, and skin allergies can all cause your cat to feel pain when touched in this area.

It’s even more likely to be a medical condition if your cat previously enjoyed it when you scratched it in this area. An early diagnosis can help get your cat back into good health sooner.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, we can’t ask our pets why they behave the way they do, so we need to make some educated guesses. In our opinion, the most likely reason your cat raises its butt is to show you that it enjoys what you are doing.

It may be a hold-over from childhood, and it might be expecting you to sniff its butt, but cats don’t usually get into this position for other cats that regularly sniff there. The only other time we see cats get into this position (with the front of the body close to the ground and the butt high in the air) is when they are scratching the carpet, which also seems to make them feel good.

We hope you have enjoyed this short guide and that it has helped answer your questions. If we helped you understand your cat better, please share this guide to why cats raise their butts when scratched on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Christin Hume, Unsplash

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