The butt wiggle: Why do cats do this before they pounce?

We’ve all seen our cats do it: They crouch down very low, zero in on their prey, whatever it is, then wiggle their butts right before launching themselves into the air and pouncing. It’s so cute, and so hilarious, that nobody can really get enough of it. What is that, though? Why do cats do the butt wiggle right before they pounce?

The butt wiggle has to do with hunting behavior

There’s an actual reason for this that has to do with how cats hunt. Yes, they’re stealthy hunters, but one would think that wiggling their butts like that would belie their position and scare away their prey. However, you have definitely seen how they launch themselves – they must be properly grounded and balanced in order to launch successfully.

Enter the butt wiggle. This helps your kitty get her back feet in the exact position she needs for that launch. It’s rather like the way an athlete will position his or her feet right before jumping, taking off in a sprint, diving, etc.

Watch below (and don’t drink anything beforehand):

Big cats do the butt wiggle, too

In the wild, the big cousins of our furry feline friends—lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, etc.—actually dig their feet into the ground a bit for leverage before launching after their prey. The wiggle of a big cat is likely much slower than that of your little cat, but it’s still there, and it’s done for the same reason.

In our house, all four cats do the butt wiggle before launching themselves after their own “prey,” which is usually a toy attached to a string, which is attached to a stick. They do it to varying degrees; Chase will actually stop and start his wiggling, as will Kali. Gizmo‘s is very brief, and Aria‘s seems to last forever.

We love watching all of them do it.

If you’d like to see more of the butt wiggle, click here. Buzzfeed has a great compilation of feline butt wiggle .gifs.

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