daily tails logo

Why Do Cats Lift Their Bum When Being Petted?

Curious about why your cat lifts its bum when being petted? Find out how this behavior is a form of feline communication and what it signifies.

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

Updated August 14, 2023.

Have you noticed your cat lifting its tail when you pet it? It's not just a quirky behavior, but a form of communication. Cats raise their bums during petting to amplify the pleasant sensation experienced when the base of their tail is scratched.

This movement brings the nerves closer to the surface, making the 'target' easier to hit. It's a friendly gesture suggesting "Keep going, you got the spot."

Helping us better understand this cat behavior is 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.

Decoding Cat Behavior: Why Do Cats Present Their Bum to Their Owners?

It's a mark of trust and affection. They’re putting themselves in a vulnerable position, which means the cat trusts you 100%.

Cats communicate using various glands throughout their bodies, including anal glands. Cats often sniff each other's butts as a greeting, similar to dogs. When your cat presents its bum, it's essentially offering a friendly 'hello.' While it might seem unusual, it's a sign of trust and respect from your cat, suggesting that they see you as a trusted companion.

Where Do Cats Prefer Being Petted?

Cats, known for their individualistic preferences, mostly enjoy being stroked around the head, neck, chin, and cheeks. The topic of belly rubs can be complicated. While some cats enjoy it, others see it as a threat, activating a defensive instinct. When unsure, stick to the head, neck, chin, and cheeks, and only venture to the belly if you know the cat is comfortable with it.

Respecting Cat's Preferences

Understanding and respecting your cat's behaviors and instincts are key to a harmonious relationship. Cats communicate in their unique ways, from lifting their bums during petting to presenting their bums as a form of greeting.

Recognizing these signs and respecting their preferences not only ensures a comfortable environment for your cat but also strengthens the bond you share.

MetLife Pet Insurance

4.6/5(378 reviews)