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.

Study Suggests Cats’ Coloring Determines Aggression

Since cats are still partly wild, they often seem capricious and prone to mood swings. You might wonder why one of your cats is aggressive in certain situations, while another is just as mellow as can be in those same situations. Chalk it partly up to individual personality and disposition, but it’s also possible that cats’ coloring determines aggression, too.

If cats’ coloring determines aggression, which cats are most aggressive?

According to a story in the Independent, female calicoes are more likely to be aggressive than cats of other colors. There isn’t data on how male calicoes behave, due to how rare those cats are (you will occasionally find male calicoes, but they’re very rare due to the fact that genes for both orange fur, and black fur, are carried on the X chromosome).

Black-and-white cats tend to be aggressive when handled, and gray-and-white cats get most aggressive while visiting the vet. Veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis, surveyed 1,274 cat parents about what color cats they had, and when those cats most often displayed aggressive behavior. It seems that this survey may have, indeed, discovered that cats’ coloring determines aggression, at least to some degree.

What are the ideal colors for low levels of aggression?

The ideal colors, then, are solid black, gray or white, or tabby. That is, at least according to this study of whether cats’ coloring determines aggression. Gizmo, our solid black cat, does not like to be handled at all. She will claw and hiss, and sometimes even bite, unless we’re handling her on her express terms.

Kali’s a gray tabby, and she can be very affectionate, but she, too, only enjoys it on her terms. Her terms, however, come far more frequently than Gizmo’s. Chase is a black-and-brown tabby, and he’s a lot like Gizmo, except he doesn’t get aggressive when he doesn’t want to be handled. He just tries to get away.

Of all our cats, Aria is our most mellow, and will put up with an awful lot of petting, holding, hugging, and carrying, than our other three cats. She’s a dilute tortoiseshell, which isn’t mentioned in this article.

If it’s true that cats’ coloring determines aggression, then perhaps this could help people with deciding on a cat to adopt. It’s best to adopt a cat with a temperament that’s suited to your own lifestyle and home situation. For instance, if you have small children, you’ll want a cat that’s easygoing, mellow and tolerant. If calicoes truly don’t tolerate handling as well as, say, a solid white cat, then you can avoid calicoes that could snap at your children, just for being children.

Where Cats Like Being Pet the Most

You love to pet your cat, and your cat loves to be pet. Despite all her reactions, all her body language, you might have wondered where cats like being pet. Now, science has actually figured out where cats like being pet, at least, in two small-scale studies. Are any of these true of your cat?

Where cats like being pet the most

The primary study mentioned in a recent article in the Washington Post found that cats really like being pet on the head. This is especially true of their faces; where cats like being pet the most is their cheeks, chins, and even their mouths; all these are their favorite places for things like tiny, soft strokes and small scratches.

We can definitely see that in our own cats; when they want attention, it’s their faces they rub on us. Kali, Chase and Aria will all rub their cheeks and foreheads on us, and they love chin scratching. Gizmo is kind of an outlier, because her favorite place to be pet is right on top of her head. She headbutts, but she doesn’t really rub her chin and cheeks on us.

One possible reason that this is where cats like being pet the most is because this is where a lot of their scent glands are. They could be wired to enjoy having those areas touched and pressed to encourage them to frequently spread their scent. Cats have scent glands elsewhere, too, like in their paw pads, which is one reason why they scratch posts, furniture, trees, and more. Anything to mark their territory as thoroughly as possible.

Everywhere else

The Washington Post article says that cats consider their backs as “meh” petting territory. They also consider their paws and flanks as “meh” territory. I don’t know about your cats, but Chase, Kali and Aria love having their backs pet and scratched. Gizmo, again, is the outlier here. In fact, I’m pretty sure Kali walks away from her bowl in the middle of a meal for the sole purpose of making me scratch her back. She is one cat that definitely doesn’t consider her back to be “meh” petting territory.

Stroking all four of our cats along their backs makes them sleepy, when they’re in the mood for attention. It’s relaxing to them. One thing that the researchers put forth is that cats think of petting as a type of grooming activity, which is calming and reassuring for cats.

Places where cats like being pet do not include their tails, or more specifically, the bases of their tails. The researchers who conducted the study found that the base of cats’ tails is very sensitive, possibly because it’s an erogenous zone. Petting or scratching the base of the tail might overstimulate the area, so they don’t like it. Aria certainly doesn’t like it; she starts mewing in protest whenever we touch the base of her tail.

Despite all this scientific research, where cats like being pet the most may come down do how they were socialized, what kind of grooming they received as kittens, and what kind of attention they get at home. For each of our individual cats, the best way to determine where they like to be pet is to study their behavior, and their reactions, when you pet different parts of their bodies.

Why do Cats like Licking us? The Answer’s Simple

Have you ever felt your cat’s rough, sandpaper tongue, and not just because you were giving him a pill, or have something tasty on your fingers? Maybe he lies down next to you and starts washing your arm, or if he’s like Aria, he settles himself on the back of your sofa or chair and starts washing your hair. What gives? Why do cats like licking us?

Licking and grooming is comforting

Mother cats groom their kittens from the time they’re born. Dr. Karen Becker says that the very first feeling a kitten experiences is the warm, raspy tongue of his mama. He can’t see, so he relies on his mama for everything, and being groomed is a very comforting feeling.

Siblings that are raised together often groom each other throughout their lives, and even cats that aren’t related, but who bond, will groom each other. This is how they show that they care for each other. In other words, our cats like licking us because it’s one way they show heir love for us. They’re “mothering” us, trying to give us warmth and comfort.

If you’re like me, though, your cat’s tongue hurts. Gizmo will try and wash my face whenever she gets the chance, and she usually goes for the tip of my nose. Worse, she sometimes goes for the really sensitive skin on my cheek, below my eye. It hurts! I can only stand a few licks from her on my face, and she doesn’t really wash me anywhere else. Of course, she doesn’t understand it hurts, and pulling away seems to hurt her feelings.

What to do when we don’t like it that our cats like licking us

When cats like licking us, we might feel that we have to put up with it, but we don’t. What do I do, when Gizmo starts licking my face, or Aria starts making my arm raw? I distract them, usually by scratching their ears or back. Catster agrees that distraction is a good way to stop this behavior. They suggest using a toy, or some catnip, to distract her attention.

Sometimes, we think our cats like licking us, but it’s really compulsive behavior because they’re stressed out. Licking is self-soothing, but cats suffering from this compulsion don’t always lick themselves. Try some good, interactive playtime to de-stress your cat, if you think he’s licking you because he’s stressed out. Daily play sessions can help cats who feel stressed.

Regardless of why our cats like licking us, trying to get them to stop altogether takes a lot of love and patience. Don’t yell at your cat, or get rough with him, especially if you suspect he’s licking you because he’s stressed. If his licking doesn’t bother you, though, then let him go to town. Just be careful to keep him from licking open cuts, scrapes and wounds.

Cats Don’t Like Hugs, but Why?

Yesterday was Hug Your Cat Day, which prompted articles full of photos of kitties hugging kitties, and people trying to hug kitties. It also prompted articles full of pictures of cats that absolutely hate being hugged. Most of us hug our cats whether they like it or not, and many of us have found that our cats don’t like hugs. Period.

Of our four cats, not one of them actually likes being hugged. If my cats represent all cats, I’d say they’re proof positive that cats don’t like hugs at all. Sure, they like it when I cuddle them, so long as I cuddle them when they want cuddles, and at no other time. However, even if they’re feeling affectionate, they all seem to draw the line at a hug.

Aria will sort of put up with it, but we can feel her tense up. Chase and Kali both start breathing funny; it speeds up and gets a little louder. They, likewise, tense up, and they both try and duck away if they think they can. They’ll also get very squirmy when they can’t. Gizmo flat-out refuses hugs, and will scamper away, duck away, or even push away if possible.

The reason cats don’t like hugs

We love to show our affection for each other with hugs, and since cats seem to like physical contact, it’s easy to think that they’d like hugs too, but they don’t. Why is it that cats don’t like hugs? What’s so terrible about them?

Way of Cats says that the feeling of a hug is confining to cats; we’re so much bigger than they are that we practically envelop them. Cats also feel threatened if we’re standing over them, and more so if we’re making eye contact with them. To cats, eye contact signals dominance, and even aggression. If you’re towering over your cat and making eye contact right before you envelop her in a hug, it doesn’t convey love to her. It’s frightening.

Don’t lose hope; you can still hug your cat

Fortunately, the fact that some cats don’t like hugs doesn’t mean all cats don’t like hugs. It also doesn’t mean you can’t hug your cat. You just have to learn to do it correctly. First things first: Don’t sneak up on your cat. They absolutely do not like being surprised, and you’ll spoil your chance for a good hug and some affection if you startle them.

Pet her softly, on her terms, in her favorite spot, where she’s most calm. If she seems receptive, then you can gently put your arms around her. Don’t grab her, hug her tightly, or otherwise be rough with her; see if you can let her know that she can get away if she doesn’t feel safe.

You might also need to just do it on her terms. Sometimes, it seems like cats don’t like hugs, but what’s really happening is that they don’t like it when it’s not on their terms. Sit down or lie down near her, and she if she’ll come to you. If she wants attention, she will, and you can see if you can hug her in this situation.

Our cats are more tolerant of hugs when the hug is entirely on their terms. It’s important to remember that some cats don’t like hugs no matter what, though, so if you’ve got one of these cats, and you’ve tried everything, don’t force the issue. She’ll show you affection in ways that she’s comfortable with, and that’s ultimately what’s most important.

Cats Purr for More Reasons than Happiness

One method of communication cats have, that few other creatures have, is the purr. We’ve always assumed that cats purr only when they’re happy, but that’s not true. Cats purr when they’re nervous, too, and when they’re injured. Mama cats purr right after they’ve given birth. Besides all that, cats have different purrs; some purr loudly, some purr softly, and others purr silently. Why do cats purr, and what do their purrs mean?

Cats purr to help heal themselves

First of all, the frequencies at which cats purr are frequencies that promote healing; specifically, healing of broken bones and damaged muscle tissue, according to Scientific American. However, purring is also thought to be an evolutionary way of conserving energy; in other words, it’s a low-energy way of promoting healing.

This is why cats purr when they’re injured and in pain. There’s also speculation that cats’ purrs help them alleviate problems with bone density, dysplasia and other bone problems that plague domestic dogs. However, cats do purr when they’re happy, and other times too.

Cats purr as communication, too

Purrs are the first form of communication between a mother and her kittens, according to Cat Wisdom 101. Newborn kittens are blind, and mama’s purr tells her kittens, “Here I am.” Cat Wisdom 101 says that cats’ purrs are, in general, a way of saying, “Here I am,” when they’re feeling affectionate. They’re also a way of saying, “Here I am, but don’t hurt me,” when they’re nervous or frightened. It could also be self-soothing, in that the purring helps to calm them a little when they’re scared.

Did you know that the great cats, such as lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars can’t purr, even though they can roar? The lesser cats, like cougars, lynxes, bobcats, servals, caracals and ocelots can purr. Cheetahs can purr, too. Oddly enough, these cats can’t roar.

Each cat has its own, unique purr

We have four cats in our house, and four different types of purrs. Chase purrs almost silently, even when he’s at his happiest and most relaxed. Kali’s purr is a little louder, but oftentimes, we can still barely hear it. We have to scratch her certain ways to make her purr loudly.

Gizmo and Aria, on the other hand, both purr rather loudly, especially when they’re happy and relaxed. They both purr so loudly that they almost trill when they exhale. None of our four cats purrs nonstop for long periods of time; however, Kali and Aria can both purr for awhile when they want to. Gizmo and Chase, on the other hand, purr for short periods of time, off and on.

You can’t tell the difference between pleasure purrs and pain purrs, just from the sound alone. You also have to look at their behavior to know if they’re sick or injured, and purring from pain. Pay careful attention to your cat, especially how she reacts to your touch, if she seems to be purring for no real reason. If you suspect that she’s sick or injured, call your veterinarian.

Cats Train Us: The Cold, Hard Truth

A common stereotype out there is that we humans don’t train cats, but rather, cats train us. In reality, it seems to go both ways; you work with your cat on improving desired behaviors, and stopping undesirable behaviors, with a reward system, while your cat likely thinks she’s training you to give her treats and attention whenever she does certain things. Is it true that cats train us, rather than us training them?

Kali: Evidence that cats train us, not the other way around

Kali is a picky eater. Some days, she’s a little piglet; eating all her food before I have a chance to sit down and get comfortable. Other days, she eats a little, then wanders away, then goes back and eats some more, then takes a bath, then eats some more. Maybe she finishes, and maybe she doesn’t. She does what she wants.

Oftentimes, when she walks away from her food after only eating half, I’ll just let her be for ten minutes or so. Then I go over to where she is, and start scratching her back, her ears, and her chin, and lightly rubbing her neck. She gets happy, and starts head-butting and purring, and I step up the attention. After a few minutes, she chirps, trills, gets down and goes back to her food.

So, what just happened here? Did I figure out that petting her, and making her happy, makes her want to eat, or did she figure out that if she stays away from her food long enough, I’ll come to her and give her attention? Is she evidence that cats train us?

Chase has us trained pretty well, too

We’ve got a similar thing going on with Chase. While we’re fixing the cats’ breakfast and dinner, he’s rubbing on our legs, standing up with his paws on the drawer handle, and mewing plaintively, or screaming in his desperate voice. Obviously, this behavior stops as soon as he gets his bowl of food. If cats train us, then he knows that all that screaming and pawing and rubbing gets him his food. That’s why he does it.

Of course, we’d feed him regardless of whether he did all this, or just sat quietly and waited, the way that Gizmo and Aria do. They all need to be fed, so we feed them.

The honest truth is that we’ll actually never know if we’re training our cats, or if cats train us. It looks to me like Kali and Chase have me pretty well trained, but I’m sure they let me think I’ve gotten some training done with them, too.