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Why Do Cats Wiggle Their Butts Before Pouncing?

Ever wondered why cats wiggle before they pounce? Discover the science behind this adorable and intriguing feline behavior with insights from a cat behaviorist.

Rachel and her cat Rosie.
By Rachel Geller
Davor Štefanović - Editor for DailyTails
Edited by Davor Štefanović

Updated September 29, 2023.

If you've ever noticed a cat performing a cute little "butt wiggle" before pouncing on an unsuspecting toy, you're not alone. Many cat owners find this particular feline behavior adorable, but what's the reason behind it?

To help answer that question, we joined forces with Rachel Geller, Ed.D., an acclaimed cat behaviorist and the Founder and President of All Cats All the Time, a nonprofit dedicated to cat adoption and preventing surrender.

The Science Behind the Wiggle

There are several theories surrounding this mysterious "butt wiggle". Much like athletes limbering up before a race, the wiggle could be seen as a feline warm-up routine.

Primarily, this wiggle helps cats with traction. It enables them to ground their legs, providing a sense of where they'll push off before pouncing. But the wiggle could also be a sensory preparation, helping them to align their body and vision as they lock onto their target.

This butt wiggle could also serve to increase their body awareness, getting them used to their position relative to their target. Essentially, it's an aerobic warm-up that readies their mind and body for the coordinated action of the pounce.

The main thing the wiggle does is stretch and activate the muscles. It gets the cat ready and gets them the traction they need.

This preparation is key for the cat to feel ready to pounce.

Stealth Mode: The Silent Pounce

Contrary to what one might think, cats usually do not vocalize before pouncing. As skilled predators, cats prioritize stealth, preferring to remain silent so as not to alert their target. The only exception might be during a heated feline showdown, where hissing and growling come into play rather than a gentle meow.

The Art of the Pounce: Strategy and Precision

Before pouncing, cats like to strategize. They develop a hunting sequence, sizing up the situation, and locking their vision on their prey. This proves that cats are not just instinct-driven, but also clever strategists who use both their minds and bodies in their hunting antics.

Cats and Their Remarkable Flexibility

Ever wondered how cats manage to squeeze their tiny bodies through the smallest cracks? It turns out, cats have movable collarbones. If they can get their head through something, they can fit their entire body through it. This anatomical trait is important to consider, particularly for ensuring window safety in homes with cats.

Adorable Apex Predators

In understanding the curious habits of our feline friends, we come to appreciate the complexity of their behaviors and the instinctual prowess that they exhibit, be it through an adorable butt wiggle before a pounce, their stealthy approach, or their ability to navigate through small spaces. Truly, cats continue to charm and amaze us in their unique ways.

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