Why Do Cats Arch Their Back?

Are you familiar with the "Halloween cat"? You know, that cartoon image of a cat with a back arched comically high? Did you ever wonder about that certain antics of cats where they habitually arch their back? Well, let us put our curiosity goggles on and find out why do cats arch their back most of the time!


How Come Cats Are Able To Do This?

Did you know that cats are the only species that is able to arch its back? You will know a little bit later as to why cats are able to do so while others can’t. What is it in a cat that allows them to do so? It is because of their superb agility and flexibility that they are able to arch their back the way they do.

Cats are gifted with the immense ability to contort their bodies the way they want to. That is also the very reason why sometimes cats are thought to be almost liquid. They can magically fit themselves in the shape of whatever container they wish to be in, no matter how impossible it will look in the first place.

Now, let us look at it from a more scientific perspective, it is because a cat's spine contains an almost 60-vertebrae count. This allows them to angle and position themselves the way they wish to do so, and have no problems at all. 

Here’s Why!

After knowing how your cats can arch their backs just like that, the next question in your mind would probably be, why is there a need for them to do so? What is the purpose of arching their back like that? 

  1. The First Line of Defence
    Well, the answer is primarily because it is your cat’s defence mechanism. It is your cat’s way of showing how “frightening” it can be when faced with predators and other dangers.

    Usually, your cat assumes this pose when it feels threatened, or when your cat wishes to show that they can never be fazed. While it is possible that they may be intimidated, they just won't back down, as easily, arching their backs is an attempt to intimidate the opponent as well. Usually, this is accompanied by hissing, baring their teeth, growling loudly, and spitting.

  2. Cat’s Play
    This pose is not always associated with hostility from cats. Sometimes it could also mean that they are in their playful mode. Such polar opposites aren't it? Thing is, instead of hissing and growling sounds, you’ll see your cat bouncing heartily and ever so lively while playing with toys designed for cats who may play alone or with you.

  3. Stretching Their Bodies
    Let’s not overthink things! They arch their backs just so they can stretch their bodies and maintain their flexibility. You will notice that they do this mostly before going to sleep or after waking up in their very comfy and very own cat trees. If they wouldn’t do so, their muscles would end up “sleeping”.

  4. Practice Makes Perfect
    Sometimes your cat will simply do the pose without any trigger or stimuli. Well, in this case, your cat is just probably “practicing" when the times comes that they would need to do the pose for real. 

  5. A Sign of Affection Believe
    You will be thrilled to know that another meaning of cats arching their backs is actually a sign that they like you! Observe your cats whenever you start stroking their backs, see how they would follow your touch by aching their backs. It is their little way of telling you how much they appreciate your presence and your touch!

  6. A Cat Was Here
    There will also be instances where your cat would randomly walk up spaces, walls, or posts, and arch its back out of the blue – mysterious as it is, your cat is simply marking its territory. We do not see it, nor smell it, but your cat sort of sprays its pheromones in the surface to signal other cats to stay away because it is their territory.

Bottom Line

Cats sure do have a lot of antics, some unexplainable, some easy to decode. In this article we discussed how a cat is able to arch its back just like that and why would they do so in the first place. Case closed! Curiosity satisfied, I presume? There is a lot to learn about our cats every day. Simply observe their behavior and you will be left wondering every time!

Rebecca Welters

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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