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Why Do Cats Arch Their Back?

Why Do Cats Arch Their Back?

Despite having agile and flexible bodies, cats and kittens are often found in questionable poses. One famous cat behavior is when they arch their backs. You might have seen your cat stretching, with its paws and back pointed upwards.   

So, why do cats arch their backs? 

Top Five Reasons Why Cats Arch Their Backs

Stretching is natural for cats, just like it is for humans. Here are the top five reasons why cats arch their backs.

1. They Get Scared

When facing a threat, a cat might arch its back if it feels uncomfortable or scared. When cats arch, the hair on their back stands up, and the cat starts hissing. Cat owners occasionally see this behavior, especially when facing another cat. Cats will arch their backs in front of a rival, trying to scare them away and getting ready for a fight if the rival cat comes near. 

In this situation, keeping your distance is advised. Let your cat calm down and feel safe before you go near it. Sometimes cats jump at their owners when they are spooked, and you could get hurt. 

2. They Want to Play

When cats feel playful, they often arch their backs as an invitation to play with them. It is different from their pose when they feel threatened. There is no hissing, growling, or violent behavior.

Your cat can feel playful towards a human or their favorite toy. Sometimes they jump and pounce when they feel happy. It is a cat’s way of showing friendly behavior and indicating that it is playtime. 

Cat standing on its back legs

3. Simple Stretching

The arching of a cat’s back does not necessarily indicate danger. Sometimes, it is just a lazy stretch after waking up from a long nap. It stretches just like humans do to get rid of the fatigue and feel fresh. Cats stretch with their front paws outstretched, tail pointing upwards, and nose facing forward.

4. You Found the Right Spot

If your cat starts arching its back while you are petting it, then don’t be alarmed. You have found the perfect spot where it likes your touch. When it arches its back, it’s showing you that it likes your touch and wants more. It gives you easy access and indicates where it wants to get stroked. Your cat feels happy and content. 

So, what are the usual sweet spots?

  • Above the tail
  • Down its spine 
  • Behind its ears
  • Under its chin

These are the most common spots where cats like to be petted and sometimes arch their backs. Be careful when you are stroking its belly or near its tail. Cats don’t like humans touching these areas, and you might get hurt. Do not overstimulate your cat while stroking it, as they will lash out, and you will get a bite or a scratch. 

5. Showing Their Bum

Cats will sometimes show you their bums when they are petted. It may seem amusing, but it is a cat’s way of greeting a friend. If a cat shows you its bum and arches its back when you pet it, it wants more strokes from you. It feels happy around you and appreciates your touch. 

How Does a Cat React When You Touch It

So far, we have seen that cats often arch their back when you touch them. Your personality and how you treat your cat play a significant role in how they react to your touch. 

A cat may trust you instantly if you offer food and a safe place to live. Sometimes, cats will not get comfortable around you despite your hard efforts. The cat’s gender sometimes influences the way it responds to your touch. 

Making a cat comfortable around you is a difficult task. Some cats are aggressive and do not like getting close to humans, while others are scared to approach one. If a cat has had a bad experience before with a human, it avoids humans or attacks them if they get too close.  

Jumping cat

Don’t Touch a Cat if It Doesnt Like It

If your cat avoids your touch and does not like when you get it, then you need to take a step back. Its stress levels will increase, and it can even start disliking you if you do not understand its needs. It might try to bite you or cut you with its claws. Observe your cat and learn its behavior patterns.

On the other hand, it is a good sign if your cat wants you to pet it, and it means it is satisfied with how you care for it and accepts your love. 

How to Tell if My Cat Likes to Be Touched or Not?

Cats show various signs that it likes your touch, such as arching their back, but all cats do not offer the same behavior. Some common signs are:

  • Kneading
  • Ears pointing outwards
  • Purring
  • Relaxed body
  • Relaxed facial expressions
  • Slowly waving their tail

Now how do you tell if your cat doesn’t like your touch?

A cat can express its discomfort in several ways, such as arching its back and hissing at you. Some other signs include:

  • Thrashing their tail
  • Wide eyes
  • Avoiding your touch
  • Stiff posture
  • No kneading
  • No purring
  • Aggressive sounds 
  • Sounds of displeasure

Having said that, all cats are unique, and their behavior isn’t the same. As a cat owner, you should learn the behavioral patterns of your cat so you will understand when a cat does not want you to touch it.  


When a cat likes getting touched, it will arch its back and ask for more. Other times, it will move its head or try to get away if it does not like your touch. As a cat owner, you must understand your cat’s likes and dislikes, so you do not bring any discomfort to your cat. 

Several signs indicate whether a cat likes your touch, such as kneading and purring. If it tries to get away from you, you need to take a step back and avoid touching it. 

No two cats are the same, and each cat responds differently to a human’s touch. Often when a cat arches it back, it might be stretching, wants to play, or you touched it in the perfect spot. Sometimes, cats arch their backs when they feel scared by another predator or rival; the hair on their back stands up, and they start hissing. 

These are the most common reasons why cats arch their back. If you see any of these signs in your cat, you know what to do.