Cat Walking With Arched Back

Cat Walking With Arched Back

Cats exhibit unique behaviors that can sometimes border on queerness. They have diverse body language that only cat experts can truly understand. Even experienced pet parents are sometimes at a loss on why your cat is acting a certain way. One particular feline behavior that many find puzzling is when cats walk with an arched back. This behavior displays cats’ extraordinary flexibility thanks in part to their spine which has 60 vertebrae. 

Why is my cat walking with arched back?

If your cat is walking with an arched back it may mean that the cat is stretching her muscles, sensing danger, preparing to pounce on prey, or she could be experiencing pain in her abdomen or back. 

Here is more information on the common reasons why your cat is walking with an arched back:

1. Your cat may be stretching her muscles

Cats will usually arch their back after a nap or long sleep to stretch their muscles just as we would upon waking up in the morning.  Stretching their body and arching their back is a cat’s way of unlinking tight muscles on their back. Just of the stretching variations that cats may do include the hind-legs-stretched-backward-while-the-weight-is-supported-by-the-forelegs, the arch-the-back stretch, and the head-and-chest-down-and-tail-up-in-the-air position. 

2. Your cat senses danger

Another reason for a cat to walk with an arched back is that she is afraid, angry, or in a defensive mode because she senses danger.  This pose is often called the “Halloween cat” and your cat may turn sideways to scare another animal and this may be accompanied by piloerection, which means the raised hairs on the shoulders, back, and tail. This is an involuntary reaction and adrenaline is usually the cause for muscles to contract which allows the hair to straighten away from the body. 

These are the most probable reasons that cause piloerection in cats aside from fear:

  • arousal 
  • aggression
  • she may be feeling cold 
  • insecurity 
  • defensiveness 
  • to retain body heat 
  • upon meeting new animals or people 

There are temporary as well as permanent reasons why cats may feel threatened. Temporary reasons may include unfamiliar scents, humans, or animals or triggering a negative memory while permanent reasons may include stress and anxiety caused by new pets or family members, home remodeling, loud noises. or you may be spending less time with your pet cat. 

3. She may be hunting and ready to pounce.

Cat hunting and ready to pounce.
Image: / Nils Jacobi

If the cat is walking with an arched back in a stealthy way it is probably because she is hunting prey and the arching position is to give her an additional spring to her movements as she prepares to pounce on the prey. Kittens usually do this during playtime since play for them is a sort of practice for their coming life as an adult felines and includes honing their hunting skills.  

4. She may be experiencing pain in her abdomen or back. 

Inversely, a cat walking with an arched back may be experiencing pain and certain health concerns. Observe your cat closely as she walks with an arched back, and if it is accompanied by the following symptoms then she may be in pain:

  • the cat refuses to be handled
  • the cat manifests depression and lethargy
  • the cat is agitated and reluctant to settle 
  • the cat is aggressive 
  • the cat is excessively licking and grooming herself 

Should this happen, you should consult your vet without delay.

If your cat is walking with an arched back but in a limping manner it may be that she strained a muscle, has a foreign object stuck in her paw, or has arthritis. If a cat walks with an arched back and is also showing the following signs she may have arthritis:

  • walking stiffly 
  • reluctant to go up or down the stairs
  • has difficulty in getting up or down
  • has lame legs 
  • has stiff or sore joints
  • reluctant to jump up or down a vehicle or furniture

Arthritis is most often observed among senior cats which are more prone to health issues due to their advanced age. Other health conditions among senior cats include hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, heart problem, and digestive issues. 

5. Your cat is happy and showing signs of playfulness

A cat walking around your feet with an arched back it may be an invitation for playtime and for you to pet her. This body position is most probably a positive one and your cat may be craving for interaction and some playtime.  

6. Your cat may be marking her territory

If a cat walking with arched back positions herself against a wall or door, acting as if she’s about to urinate, it may be that she is marking her territory with the use of her anal scent glands. Cats that usually display this behavior are unspayed or unneutered felines since fixed cats tend to be less territorial.