Have you ever wondered why cats lift their butts when scratched? Cat owners will be very familiar with this phenomenon, known informally as “elevator butt.” As cute as this behavior is, it’s a little baffling. Why do they do it? Is it positive or negative? What are they trying to communicate? According to professionals, this position — chest lowered and booty in the air — could be a sign of a few different things. Keep reading to find out what your cat is trying to tell you when she lifts her butt while you’re giving her attention.
1. “Give me more pets please!”
Having a cat tushie in your face doesn’t sound like a proper thank you for those back scratches, but your cat’s actually trying to tell you that you’ve hit a good spot. While each cat may have her own preferred “petting spot,” many enjoy being scratched right at the base of their tails. “The area near the base of the tail is filled with nerve endings that, when stimulated, can produce feelings of pleasure,” explains Dr. Alex Crow, veterinary surgeon and founder of PetHealthGuru.com. “Your cat raising her butt in the air is often a signal that she is enjoying the experience and wants more of it.” (Did you notice she has more pudge during your last pet sesh? Click through to see if it’s just her primordial pouch.)
2. “We’re one big happy family”
Felines can also transfer their scent via pheromones produced by their anal glands. So when they raise their tush while you’re petting them, they’re actually inviting you to verify that they’re a member of the family and to swap scents. As icky as that sounds, it’s apparently one of the highest honors a cat can bestow on its doting owner. “Cats instinctively mark their territories with their scent, and if you’re a cat owner (or simply someone the cat likes), it’s very likely that your cat will mark you as part of her territory too,” says animal expert Tommy Wilde of FloofMania.com.
3. “I trust you with my nine lives”
Aside from showing you the pets feel good, Fluffy may also be communicating that she trusts you when she lifts her butt in the air. “This action can be interpreted as a sign of trust and comfort,” says veterinarian Dr. Sara Ochoa, co-founder of How-To Pets . “They are presenting themselves in a vulnerable position, indicating to their trusted humans or other cats that they are comfortable and secure in their environment.”
But why is this a sign of comfort and trust? “This behavior stems from your cat’s early life as a kitten,” says Dr. Ochoa. “The mother cat often licks her kittens’ bottoms to clean them. As your cat grows older and is petted by her owners, this behavior becomes a form of interaction and social bonding.” So if your cat’s lifting her butt around you, there’s a good chance she’s thanking you for making her feel safe and cared for. Awww!
4. “I’m in the mood for love”
Your cat lifting her butt could be a sign of something adorable. But if you have a female kitty who hasn’t been spayed, “elevator butt” could be a sign that she’s ready to mate. The proper name for this stance is lordosis, and cats adopt it when they’re in heat. “In these situations, her tail will often be off to the side,” adds Joey Lusvardi, CCBC, cat behavior expert and owner Class Act Cats. “This behavior can happen even if you aren’t a male cat. I’ve had female cats that are in heat go into lordosis when I’ve been petting them before.” This doesn’t mean your cat is trying to mate with you — lifting her tail in heat is just an instinctual behavior. Important to note: If your female cat is in heat and unspayed, keep her indoors as much as possible, as she can become pregnant if there are unneutered males nearby.
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