Cats are notoriously mysterious, and often behave in ways that we both find odd and adorable. And, when it comes to sitting positions, they really have got some quirky ones!
For example, you might find your cat reclining on the couch with its hind legs spread out, almost like a human. Some cats even relax in poses that make them look like a child sitting on your lap.
Thanks to their incredible flexibility, our four-legged friends can sit and sleep in almost any position they like. But did you know that your cat’s sitting position can also tell you whether they are feeling calm, happy, or upset?
If you are curious about cats’ sitting positions and what they mean, read on to learn how to decode your pet’s odd postures.
Cat sitting positions and their meanings
As a fur parent, understanding your cat’s sitting position can help you respond better to their needs and form a stronger bond with them. Keep in mind that cats reveal their inner states and next moves through their body language – and this includes their sitting positions.
Some common cat sitting positions are as follows:
1. Sitting up on their hind legs
We might find it cute and funny to see cats perched on their back legs, but to a cat, this position is a survival tactic. When they feel threatened by the presence of a potential predator, cats stand on their hind legs to make themselves appear bigger and more intimidating. If you have ever witnessed a cat fight, you may have noticed that some cats stand on their hind legs to scare away their opponent.
Your cat’s unusual stance might also come from curiosity or playfulness. Cats prop themselves up if they want to smell or take a closer look at something they find interesting. They may also stand up to reach for a toy or grab your hand for attention. So, if you see your furry pal standing and waving her paw in the air, it probably means she wants to play or grab some treats from your kitchen countertop.
2. The famous sphinx, or loaf position
The classic loaf position, also known as cat loaf, sphinx loaf, or hover cat, describes a cat calmly sitting with its paws and tail tucked under its belly. You will often see them sitting in a loaf position when they are relaxed and feeling safe in their environment. Their paws and tail are hidden underneath their rear or their chest; you might even notice their eyes gently opening and closing as they try to fall asleep while staying alert.
Cats love to loaf on any comfy spot, be it your couch, bookshelf, or kitchen counter. If you find your cat loafing, take it as a compliment – as her human caretaker, you have done a great job in making your furry pal feel safe, happy, and content in your home.
3. Acrobatic position
If you have been a cat owner for some time, you will not be surprised to find your cats sleeping in strange positions. Cats love to display their flexibility, even while they relax, and the result can look a bit like an acrobatics show. They can angle themselves in a number of ways without hurting themselves, and will happily fit themselves into any spot that appeals to them – be it on top of furniture, inside small boxes, or in your winter shoes.
If a cat sleeps in an acrobatic position, it often indicates playfulness. They do not mind showing off their vulnerable areas, such as the stomach, because they know they are in a safe place. Relaxing in a tricky position also means your cat does not feel threatened by potential predators. It might look uncomfortable and awkward, but do not worry – your cat is just at ease in her family’s presence.
4. Relaxed position
When cats sit in a relaxed position, it means they are happy and content with their surroundings. You might notice their ears in normal positions, tails not moving, and eyes half-closed, or, sometimes, blinking slowly. Anytime soon, they will doze off without a care in the world.
5. Anxious cat position
If you see your cat sitting with an arched back, ears flattened downwards, tail close to her side, and eye pupils wide, she is clearly feeling anxious. She might also crouch and look tense as if she is ready to run but feels too afraid to move.
Often, cats do this if their owners suddenly yell or make a loud noise. It is also a common feline reaction if you are showing signs of anger or if your movements suggest you are about to punish your pet.
6. Superman, or splooting position
Some people think that only dogs sleep with their bellies flat on the floor. Surprisingly, though, cats do that too! The superman, or splooting position, is when your furry companion lays sprawled out on the kitchen floor with her hind legs stretched out behind her. Cats love to stretch like this to enhance their flexibility and mobility, even while they relax.
They also like the superman pose when the weather is very hot. They stretch their hind legs wide open to help them cool down on a tiled or hardwood floor. In winter, when the floor is too cold, you might find your cat spread out on a warm blanket to maintain her body temperature.
7. Angry cat position
Cats in an angry position will have their ears pointing downwards, eyes getting bigger, and tails held out stiff in a straight or curled-up position. Their faces might not convey any emotions, but you can clearly see that they are not happy. Whatever has upset them, this is obviously not a great time to pet or cuddle them.
8. Focused position
They might look cute and fluffy, but cats are predators at heart – they chase and kill their prey without a hint of mercy. If they have spotted a small, moving creature, you will see their tensed body positioned in the direction of the prey, closely watching every move. Their eyes become bigger, pupils become narrowed, and their hind legs are coiled under the belly ready to ambush the helpless animal.
If you find your cat in this position, let her be. She is just demonstrating her hunting prowess, which is part of her instinctive nature.
9. Paws placed over their face
It can be quite common to see cats placing their paws over their faces while sleeping. This might look like a cute gesture, but they are actually trying to tell you not to disturb their sleep. They might also wrap their paws around their face to keep their noses warm, especially during the colder months.
10. Sitting human-style while sleeping
We often see cute videos or pictures of cats dozing off while sitting comfortably on a couch. These images go viral because the human-like postures are so amusing and completely relatable to every cat owner. Although not all humans can sleep comfortably while sitting up, cats do not mind catching a few winks with their bellies exposed, provided they feel safe in their surroundings.
11. Sitting with their back to you
Have you ever noticed your cat jump onto your lap, ask for attention, and then turn her back on you? Do not feel bad – this behavior shows good manners and trust in the cat language!
Normally, cats meet and make friends with other cats or animals through nose touching, head, and tail rubbing, and showing off their bum so the other cat can smell them. It might sound gross, but this is actually a form of feline etiquette. Cats also turn their back as a sign of trust – they know that the other cat or person behind them will not do them any harm.
So, the next time you see your furry pal sitting with her back to you, take it as a compliment. It only shows that she truly loves and trusts her human!
Is splooting okay for cats?
Splooting is not necessarily a bad position for cats. Our feline friends do need to stretch their muscles from time to time, to improve their flexibility. If your cat enjoys chilling in this position, there is no need to worry. However, if she suddenly starts sleeping in this position or is showing other symptoms, like limping or rashes on her underside, it might be worth investigating. If in doubt, take her to the vet for a thorough checkup.
Why do cats sit in weird positions?
Cats know no rules when it comes to sitting or sleeping. They can sit in any position they like, whether they are straddling the back of a sofa or perching delicately on the corner of your bathroom sink. It might look adorable to see them reclining in odd positions, but if your furry pal shows any signs of pain or discomfort while sitting, you might need to have her checked for muscle problems or injuries.
Understanding your cat’s sitting position could be your ticket to a better relationship and being better able to attend to her needs. From time to time, we might worry about our cats sitting or sleeping in difficult positions – we may think they are going to sprain a muscle or assume that something is not right with them.
In most cases, your cat’s strange position should not cause you concern. Unless you see other unusual signs of pain or distress, you can rest assured your furry friend is happy and comfortable, however, she chooses to sit!
Image: istockphoto.com / ginosphotos