You’re curled up with a good book, enjoying a quiet afternoon, when suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of… no, it can’t be! But yes, it is- your adorable little furball is standing on their hind legs! Could they be practicing their dance moves or simply trying to catch a bird’s eye view of the world around them? As any cat lover would agree, these mischievous critters never cease to amaze with their endless curiosity and uncanny ability to defy gravity.
In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of cats standing on their hind legs, exploring the reasons behind this unique behavior and if it is indeed a secret talent our feline friends have been hiding all this time.
Reasons why a cat might stand on its hind legs
1. To Explore The Surroundings
Cats are naturally curious creatures. They love to explore their surroundings, and standing on their hind legs gives them a chance to survey their environment from a unique perspective. Standing on her hind legs helps your furry friend reach higher places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. If something caught her attention, such as a bug or a bird outside the window, she might stand up to get a better view.
2. To Access High Places and Things
Whether it’s the countertop looking for treats or a high windowsill for a sunny nap, standing on their hind legs provides cats the extra boost they need to reach these typically off-limits places. If you’ve ever noticed your kitty reaching for a toy or a piece of food on a table, she adjusts her body and gets on her hind legs to reach her desired object.
3. To Engage in Play
This is especially common in kittens and younger cats who have a lot of energy to burn. Standing on her hind legs gives your playful feline the chance to engage with toys in a more interactive way. You might even notice your cat standing on her hind legs while chasing a piece of string or a laser pointer dot.
4. To Show Aggression or Defend Themselves
While it’s more common for a cat to remain low and hunched when threatened, some may stand on their hind legs as a defensive posture. It makes them appear larger and more intimidating to their opponent.
5. To Communicate
Cats often use body language to communicate, and standing on back legs is one such non-verbal form of communication. For instance, if your feline wants your attention or is trying to persuade you into giving her some of your dinner, she may stand on her hind legs as a bid for your attention.
Why are cats able to stand on their hind legs?
The Flexibility of the Feline Body
Cats are incredibly flexible creatures due to their advanced skeletal and muscular system. The arrangement of bones, coupled with numerous muscles that act in harmony, allows cats to perform impressive maneuvers, including standing on their hind legs. To balance on their hind legs, cats rely on their tail, which acts like a rudder, helping them with balance and coordination.
Evolution and Instinct
Cats are digitigrade animals, meaning they walk on their toes. Over time, the evolution process has equipped cats with a strong and flexible spine, powerful leg muscles, and a unique skeletal structure – capacitating them to spring into a standing position on their hind legs when needed. This feature is emphasized in cats due to their predatory instinct, where they need to pounce or maneuver swiftly.
A Form of Adaptation
Cats have developed the ability to stand on their hind legs as a form of adaptation. This behavior was probably more crucial in the wild, where cats needed to reach high places or view their surroundings for potential threats. Domestic cats have continued to retain this trait.
Efficient Shoulder and Hip Joints
A cat’s shoulder and hip joints significantly allow them to stand on their hind legs. Compared to human beings, cats have a more unrestricted range of movement in these joints, making it easier for them to perform acrobatic feats.
Physical Fitness and Health
If a cat is in good health and has strong muscles, it’s easier to stand up on its hind legs. Cats have strong back and leg muscles that help support their weight when they’re standing on their hind legs. However, it should be noted that not all cats show this behavior frequently.
Health implications of cats standing on their hind legs
While cats can stand on their hind legs for short periods, this behavior is not without potential health implications. Cats are anatomically designed for quadrupedal movement, meaning their bodies are optimized for walking on all four legs. Standing on their hind legs can place additional stress on their musculoskeletal system and may lead to various health issues. Here are some potential health implications of cats standing on their hind legs:
- Strain on Muscles and Joints: Cats’ bodies are adapted to distribute their weight evenly across all four legs. Standing on their hind legs shifts their weight distribution, which can strain their hind limb muscles, hip joints, and spine. Over time, this strain could lead to muscle fatigue, joint discomfort, and potential musculoskeletal problems.
- Spinal Stress: Cats have a flexible spine that allows them to twist and turn easily. However, standing upright can lead to unnatural spinal alignment and stress on the spinal column. This may result in spinal discomfort or even spinal injuries in some cases.
- Postural Changes: Frequent or prolonged standing on hind legs could contribute to changes in a cat’s natural posture and gait. This may lead to an alteration in their overall musculoskeletal alignment, potentially causing issues with mobility and coordination.
- Joint Problems: Cats’ hind limb joints, such as the hips and knees, are not designed to support the body’s weight in a prolonged upright position. Standing on their hind legs could increase the risk of joint strain, inflammation, and even long-term joint problems like arthritis.
- Muscle Imbalances: Cats’ muscles are adapted to balance strength and flexibility in their natural quadrupedal stance. Standing on two legs can lead to muscle imbalances, as certain muscles are required to work harder to maintain stability. These imbalances may contribute to discomfort and reduced range of motion.
- Stress on Paw Pads: When a cat stands on its hind legs, the full weight of its body is borne by the hind paws. This can put extra pressure on the paw pads, which are not designed to withstand such sustained weight-bearing.
- Impact on Organs: Cats’ internal organs are positioned to accommodate their quadrupedal stance. Prolonged standing on hind legs might lead to compression of organs, potentially affecting their function over time.
Tips for teaching your cat to stand on its hind legs
Get the Timing Right
Cats are more inclined to learn when they’re relaxed and in a playful mood. Find a time of day when your cat is most receptive to training and starts engaging playfully.
Choose the Right Motivation
Most cats, including yours, respond well to treats as a motivator for training. Opt for a healthy cat treat with a strong aroma, as cats primarily rely on their sense of smell to find food. You can also explore using toys or affection as an alternative reward if your kitty isn’t particularly food-driven.
Start with Basic Training
Before teaching your cat to stand on her hind legs, make sure she’s comfortable with simple commands like ‘Sit.’ This will help establish a foundation for further training.
Introduce the Command and Hand Signal
Choose a verbal command like ‘Stand’ or ‘Up’ to signal your cat to get on her hind legs. Accompany this with a hand signal, such as raising your hand upward.
Break Down the Steps
Begin with your cat in a seated position. Keep the treat or toy just above her head so she has to look up and reach with her front legs. Gradually lift the reward higher as you give the command, encouraging her to stand on her hind legs. Be patient and keep the training sessions short to maintain your cat’s interest.
Consider using a clicker to mark the precise moment your cat stands on her hind legs. This tool can be beneficial in making the training process more efficient, as your cat will associate the click sound with the desired action.
Reward and Encourage
When your cat manages to stand on her hind legs, reward her immediately with a treat or praise. Offer encouragement even if she can only keep the position momentarily and ensure the training sessions always end on a positive note.
Be Consistent and Patient
Consistency is key when teaching any new behavior. Practice regularly, repeating the command and hand signals as needed. Keep in mind that each cat learns at her own pace, so be prepared for it to take time before your cat masters the trick.
Monitor Your Cat’s Health
Ensure your cat is in good physical health before and during training. If you notice any signs of discomfort, pain, or distress, discontinue the training attempt and consult a veterinarian for advice.
What breeds of cats stand on their hind legs?
Standing on their hind legs is a behavior that can be observed in various cat breeds, although it’s important to note that individual behavior can vary widely within any breed. While not specific to certain breeds, standing on hind legs can be influenced by factors like a cat’s personality, age, and level of comfort with humans. That being said, some breeds are more commonly associated with this behavior due to their playful and inquisitive nature. Here are a few examples:
- Siamese Cats: Siamese cats are known for their social and vocal personalities. They are often curious and engaged with their surroundings, which might lead them to stand on their hind legs to investigate or communicate with people.
- Abyssinian Cats: Abyssinians are active and agile cats that enjoy interactive play. Their curiosity and athleticism might prompt them to stand on their hind legs during play sessions or when trying to catch a toy.
- Sphynx Cats: Sphynx cats are known for their lack of fur and distinctive appearance. They are highly social cats that enjoy interacting with people and often exhibit playful behaviors, which might include standing on their hind legs.
- Bengal Cats: Bengal cats have a wild appearance and are known for their energy and love of play. They might stand on their hind legs as part of their active and engaging behavior.
- Oriental Cats: Oriental breeds, like the Oriental Shorthair or Oriental Longhair, are closely related to Siamese cats and share similar traits, including being active, talkative, and curious. These traits might lead them to explore their environment on their hind legs.
- Devon Rex Cats: Devon Rex cats are known for their unique curly coats and playful personalities. They are often seen engaging in various acrobatic behaviors, including standing on their hind legs during play.
- Munchkin Cats: Munchkin cats are characterized by their short legs, which can give them a somewhat “upright” appearance when they stand on their hind legs. While their short legs might make them more inclined to stand, this behavior can still vary widely among individuals.
Every cat is unique, and your kitty might stand on her hind legs for reasons entirely her own, reminding us of the delightful diversity inherent in the world of cats. If you’re ambitious and patient enough to train your cat to stand on command, remember she may perform this trick on her terms and at her pace. However, with persistence, not only can training deepen your bond, but you also get to enjoy the sweet sight of your beloved pet mimicking a little furry human right in the comfort of your home!