cat stretched out

Why Do Cats Stretch Out Their Back Legs?

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by admin

Cats often stretch their back legs to relax and loosen their muscles after periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting still. Stretching helps to get their blood flowing and can also be a sign of seeking attention or affection from their owners. Cats will sometimes kick with their hind legs when they are playing or wrestling and this behavior can also be a sign of worms. It’s important to have your kitty checked if they seem to be stretching more than usual.

Muscles Stiff from Sleeping and Inactivity

Many cats will stretch out their back legs when they wake up from a nap or after a period of inactivity. This is because their muscles have become stiff while they were sleeping or inactive. This act of stretching is beneficial for cats as it helps to stimulate the muscle receptors, which can help to reduce stiffness and improve circulation. Furthermore, it can also help to reduce the risk of developing muscle atrophy, which can occur if a cat is inactive for an extended period of time. Stretching can also help to increase flexibility and range of motion, which can be beneficial for cats with arthritis or other joint conditions.

Lengthening Muscles

It’s not just humans who benefit from a good stretch. Cats also engage in this behavior to help their muscles relax and become more limber. By stretching their legs and body, cats are able to lengthen their muscles, allowing for more flexibility and mobility. This can help them to run faster and jump higher when they need to. Additionally, cats’ vertebral bones have increased elasticity in the disc between bones when compared to other animals, allowing them to achieve a greater range of motion when stretching.

Social Element to the Act

It’s not just about physical exercise; cats also stretch for social reasons. Cats may stretch out for extra attention or affection from their human companions, and even when they are around other cats, they may stretch out in order to make themselves look larger and more intimidating. Stretching helps cats to communicate with each other and establish dominance in their social circles. When cats are stretching their back legs, they may be trying to show their dominance or make a statement of “ownership” over a certain area.

Seeking Attention or Affection

Cats often display their love and affection for us in a variety of ways, and stretching out their back legs is one of them. When a cat is stretching out their back legs, it may be a sign that they are looking for some attention or affection from their owners. It could be a gesture of affection or a request for attention. Cats will also often do this when they are bored, as a way to solicit our awareness and care. When your cat kneads you with their paws, it is an indication of their love and trust towards you. They may also arch their back when seeking attention, which causes their hair to stand up in a piloerection.

Allowing Blood to Flow Through Limbs

In addition to stretching out their back legs, cats may also be using the motion to allow blood to flow through their limbs. This is especially true for cats who have been sleeping or inactive for an extended period of time. By stretching out their limbs, cats can get the blood flowing which helps them to shake off the stiffness caused by inactivity. This type of stretching can also help to reduce muscle pain and soreness in cats who are recovering from injuries or illnesses.

Wrestling or Play Behavior

Another reason cats will stretch out their back legs is due to wrestling or play behavior. Cats engage in this behavior when they are engaged in play, such as wrestling. This is a sign of deep trust, as cats will only do it when they feel safe. If your cat is stretching their back legs from a standing position, they’re simply lengthening their muscles. This bunny-kick move can also be seen when cats are attacking their prey, such as your arm. It’s important for cats to keep themselves limber, so they make it a point to stretch all the time.


Cats use communication in many ways, even when they are stretching out their back legs. When cats arch their back, puff out their fur, and have an alert expression, it is usually a sign of aggression. On the other hand, when cats rub against objects, including people, it is a sign of both affection and a way of leaving a message for other cats. Sometimes cats will make themselves look bigger by puffing up their fur, which is known as piloerection. This is usually done when a cat is feeling angry, aggressive, or frightened. Additionally, cats may stretch out their back legs to mark their territory as they roll back and forth on the floor.

Marking Territory

Marking territory is an important part of a cat’s natural behavior and serves as a way for cats to define their space and claim ownership of it. Cats have scent glands on their paws and they use these to leave scent markers in areas they want to mark as their own. By stretching out their back legs, cats can cover more ground and mark more territory with their scent. This is especially important if there are other cats around, as cats are territorial animals. Marking territory is a way for cats to establish their dominance over an area and make sure other cats know that the space belongs to them.

Reaching Paw out When Lying Down

Cats also use their paws to reach out when lying down. This behavior is most common in cats who are feeling safe and secure. This can be an indication that your cat trusts its environment and is comfortable with its surroundings. Osteoarthritis in the lower spine and hips can also make the area over the pelvis and upper rear legs tender, which could be a contributing factor to why cats reach out their paws when lying down. It is important to pay attention to this behavior as it can be a sign of discomfort or pain.

Feeling Secure

Cats also like to reach their paw out when they are lying down. This is a sign of feeling secure and confident in their environment. They do this to let you know that they are comfortable and relaxed in your presence. This is a sign of trust and can be seen when cats are interacting with other cats as well. It’s important for cats to feel secure and confident in their environment, so reaching out with their paw can be a sign of this.