Does she know she's being cute?
December 2, 2008 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Cat behavior question: why does my kitty stick her leg out sometimes?

Izzy, one of my cats, sometimes will stick one of her back legs out behind her when she's standing around (usually when standing next to, or rubbing up against something). Mr Allstar says he has seen other cats do this too. Why does she do this? I always think she knows she's being cute, but I'm sure that's probably not it. LOL

Here's a picture of her doing the leg thing.
posted by to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She's stretching.
Also adorable.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:56 PM on December 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

My cat has the odd tendency to, when he's laying near the edge of the couch, my lap, or some other suitable lounging surface, stretch out one front leg (or, occasionally, both) and let it hang off the edge.
posted by digitaldraco at 9:02 PM on December 2, 2008

Your cat's cuteness comes in the form of stretching, and probably many other forms as well such as looking, sleeping, eating, and being a cat.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:04 PM on December 2, 2008 [6 favorites]

Our cats do this too. They're stretching, and quite possibly attempting to get attention, since we always coo and fuss over how cute they are when they're doing it.
posted by bedhead at 9:06 PM on December 2, 2008

Response by poster: I just think it's odd, since none of my other cats have ever stretched like this before.
posted by at 9:07 PM on December 2, 2008

Well, my cat never did it till he met my roommate's cat, who does it all the time. So maybe it's some sort of learned behavior? Also, cats are weird.
posted by bedhead at 9:16 PM on December 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

She (and the others) will probably do it more and more as they get older, if my experience with ageing cats is anything to go by. The elder of our cats will do this just about every time she gets up after an extended period of lying down.
posted by pompomtom at 9:35 PM on December 2, 2008

To trip chickens.
posted by netbros at 9:46 PM on December 2, 2008 [19 favorites]

Our cat does that when we let him out of the laundry in the morning. It's a big laundry though, so it's not like he's been horribly confined. I think he does like to pretend he's hard done by, though, so shows us his displeasure with that [awfully cute, arabesque-like] stretch.
posted by prettypretty at 9:48 PM on December 2, 2008

Seconding everyone who's saying their cats have done this too. My cats often stretch their legs backwards.

Also, cats are weird and sometimes they just like to strike a pose, especially if they know we're paying attention.
posted by amyms at 10:06 PM on December 2, 2008

Animal behavior has genetic components, and these can apparently be very specific. A former cow-orker had a cat who liked to cross his front paws over each other in a very cute way when he was relaxing. He told me that pretty much all the cats of that breed did that. It's weird to think that there is a gene for crossing front paws when relaxing, and it's almost certainly not that simple. Yet it's genetically-based. This is probably something similar; the cat just happens to be wired so that stretching that way feels good, and so the cat just likes to do it. You might see similar behavior in a goodly portion of your cat's blood relatives.
posted by kindall at 10:12 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Our two oldest cats do that when they stretch. (As it has been stated.)

Our youngest hasn't got the hang of it yet, and her leg just kinda twitches when she tries.

She also runs like a rabbit, which has earned her the nickname of Dustbunny.
posted by Zarya at 10:41 PM on December 2, 2008

My dog -- who spent several months in a shelter with a ton of cats -- does this.
posted by jozxyqk at 2:45 AM on December 3, 2008

I've been told it's a body language signal that says, "you're my friend, you're okay." Every cat I've ever owned did this regularly. I also noticed that when strangers were around, that behavior was conspicuously absent until my cats got to know the person.
posted by Thistledown at 5:36 AM on December 3, 2008

My vet said that our female kitty does that sort of motion in an attempt to copycat other cats territory marking ritual, ie-rub with cheek then spraying.

Thankfully she doesn't actually spray.
posted by whoda at 5:54 AM on December 3, 2008

My neutered male cat often goes through the motions of territorial spraying when he's in a good mood. He'll back up against a door or sofa leg, raise his tail up and look for all the world like he's actually spraying, but he never dispenses with the actual spray. Please note I am not complaining about his lack of follow-through in this case.

I guess the "back up and lift" motion is hardwired into his brain, much like catbox scratching (ever seen a cat sitting in a catbox rhythmically scratching at the wall and not the litter, with this "Why the hell am I doing this?!" look on their face?) But it pleases him to do it, even if he doesn't know he's missing a crucial step.

He also does the back leg stretch every now and then. I've always seen it happen when he gets up from sitting or lying down, and he always does one back leg and then the other, so I always just assumed it was a regular stretch. I never associated any body language signals with it, though it wouldn't surprise me if Thistledown's theory is right.
posted by Spatch at 6:16 AM on December 3, 2008

It's cat ballet - they are actually practising their "pas de deux".
posted by Jade Dragon at 6:18 AM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Wouldn't that be their "paws de deux"?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:03 AM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

She's communicating her dream of wanting to be an ice skating champion. She needs lessons. And skates.
posted by anniecat at 7:17 AM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

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