Unless your cat is the famous Grumpy Cat, he or she probably enjoys being scratched and petted. Whenever you are actively scratching a friendly cat, your feline friend will naturally push the part of its body that is being touched closer to your hand for increased contact and stimulation. The neck is a favourite scratching area, but when it’s looking for a stroke, a cat will often present you with a less pleasant part – its back end. But don’t worry, she doesn’t want her bottom stroking…
There are a few theories as to why the back end is raised when being scratched, or when asking to be scratched. Most think it is to do with how kittens are raised and stimulated during cleaning. As cute as they may be, baby cats can’t clean themselves after they go to the toilet. And because poor hygiene can result in serious health problems, mum steps in to help out. Unlike human babies, kittens don’t (usually) wear diapers – so mother cat goes about things in a more direct way (we won’t spell it out for you, but if you remember that a cat’s tongue is about its only cleaning tool, you get the idea). This ritual means that from an early age, cats have a link between cuddles and attention from their mother (or from you)… and presenting their back end for a quick clean.
The back end is also involved in all sorts of kitty communication. For example, cats will often give each other a quick sniff when they meet for the first time, and some say the rear presentation is linked to sexual behaviour.
While we may never know its origins for sure, the likely explanation is that such a posture of aiming the hind end toward the owner is one of actively showing and asking for positivity, acceptance, and benevolence in kitty language.
What’s more, over time, the cat may learn that if they extend a certain part of their body towards you, they will get what they want – a nice backrub. See how your cat has trained you? They’re sneaky like that.
Answer by Artem Cheprasov (with Nick Waszkowycz)
Image credit: hexion on flickr