cat hind legs

Why Do Cats Stand on Their Hind Legs?

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by admin

Cats can stand on their hind legs for a variety of reasons. One reason is to make themselves appear larger and more intimidating when they feel threatened by a predator. Another is to try to reach your hand with their head for attention. Kittens may even stand on their hind legs as a playful behavior. Ultimately, cats stand on their hind legs to protect themselves and to seek affection from their humans.

Survival Tactics

It’s easy to assume cats stand on their hind legs for attention, but the truth is that this behavior is often rooted in a much more primal instinct. Cats will stand on their hind legs as a survival tactic, making themselves appear larger and more intimidating in the face of danger. In extreme cases, cats will even shuffle sideways while in this position, trying to make themselves look as large as possible. It’s a common instinct among mesopredators such as cats and can be seen in kittens trying to make themselves seem more intimidating to their opponents. This is an effective way for cats to fend off predators and ensure their safety.

Making Themselves Look Bigger

It’s no secret that cats have a tendency to stand on their hind legs. This behavior is actually a survival tactic designed to make them look bigger and more intimidating. When cats arch their backs, their hair stands up too, known as piloerection, making them appear larger. This can be seen in situations where cats feel threatened or scared, as a way to make the animal doing the threatening think twice about taking on the cat. Cats can also use this tactic in order to gain attention or affection from their owners.

Seeking Attention

Cats standing on their hind legs can also be a sign they’re seeking attention. Your cat may stand on your foot to connect with you, to assert ownership, show affection, or get your attention. Some cats will stand on their hind legs and move their paws in a pawing motion as if they are trying to hug you. It’s important to reinforce positive behavior by giving your cat plenty of attention when they do something you approve of, such as sitting, rubbing against your leg, lying in their bed or scratching their post. Cats will often pull out all the stops to get what they want, and although each cat has its own personality, it’s important to be diligent about rewarding positive behavior.

Reaching for Affection

Cats can stand on their hind legs to try to reach your hand with their head for attention. This often happens when the cat has been trying to get your attention for some time and it is a sign of physical affection. Some cats will even reach a paw out to you while they are snuggling with you in bed or on the couch. It is a way for your cat to show their love and let you know that they want to be close to you. Additionally, cats can also stand on their hind legs when wanting to be picked up or petted, as this is a common sign of affection from them.


Playfulness is another common reason cats stand on their hind legs. Cats who are playful like to use their paws to catch things. Scottish Folds, for example, are known for being affectionate and playful, and their physical traits are ideal for standing on their hind legs. Cats also use body language to forecast their intentions and show what they will do next. When they stand sideways, they may be about to pounce forward and grab something with their front paws. Kitten energy can result in them darting from room to room and jumping up and down on furniture, which can include standing on their hind legs. It’s important to remember that kittens can sometimes be too rough when playing, so it’s best to manage their behavior.

Reinforcing the Behavior

It is possible to reinforce the behavior of cats standing on their hind legs, although it is not always intentional. Positive reinforcement works very well for dogs and cats, so if you find yourself accidentally reinforcing the behavior, consider rewarding it with treats or encouragement. However, if the behavior is becoming a nuisance, be sure to redirect the cat to a more desirable activity.

A Better View

It is not only a survival tactic when cats stand on their hind legs; it can also be for a better view. Cats, being the curious creatures they are, are often interested in what is going on around them. Standing up tall helps them to see more of the world and what is happening around them. A Scottish Fold was once seen standing on his hind legs in order to get a better view of the other side of the room. So, if you ever see your cat standing up on their hind legs, it may be that they are just trying to get a better look at something interesting.

Cat Fights

It’s not just when cats are interacting with humans that they stand on their hind legs. Cats can also stand on their hind legs during fights. When two cats are fighting, they will stand up on their hind legs and move their front two legs forward in an attempt to reach the other cat’s face. This is done to scare off or threaten the other cat, and make themselves look bigger. It’s important to recognize the signs of a potential fight between your cats and intervene if necessary.

Kitten Instincts

When cats stand on their hind legs, it can also be a result of their natural behavior as kittens. During the first few weeks of a kitten’s life, there is a reflex called “the flexor reflex” that causes them to go limp. This reflex helps the mother cat to carry and move her kittens. When cats continue this behavior into adulthood, they may be trying to recreate their kitten days, or they may just be seeking attention from humans. Either way, this behavior is not necessarily an indication of aggression or fear – it’s just a natural instinct that cats can’t help but display!