Picture this familiar scene: You are binge-watching your favorite movies in the living room when your four-legged companion suddenly jumps on your lap, head butts you – and then turns her back on you. Weird, right?
From our human perspective, it might be odd or even rude when a cat suddenly turns her back and shows you her butt instead. But believe it or not, your cat is actually displaying proper feline manners.
So, how do you respond to your cat? Feline behavior can be amusing but also confusing, and understanding your cat’s subtle language is key to forming a deep friendship with your furry pal.
Why cats sit with their back to you
Like us, cats use body language to express their mood or even to bond with humans and other animals. Unfortunately, they are often misunderstood because they do not engage in the way we expect them to. Some cat behaviors can be weird, confusing, or even seemingly rude.
If you are confused about your cat’s apparently aloof position, the following might explain why she sits on your lap with her back to you:
1. It is one of the ultimate signs of love
Cats are often described as cold and distant; they are solitary hunters, so they often prefer being left alone. With this in mind, many of us would assume that when they turn their backs on us, our whiskered friends are being rude. But are they?
Contrary to what many people believe, cats turn their backs on their human companions because it is their way of showing love. By facing away from you, they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable because they know that you will never hurt them.
So the next time Fluffy sits with her back to you, it does not mean she is through with you and would rather do something else. As a predator, displaying such a vulnerable position is your cat’s ultimate expression of love. And, even if she has made herself comfortable with her back to you, her sensitive ears will always be angled toward you in case you call her name. When you do, she will not hesitate to turn her head to look at you with those slow, blinking eyes.
2. Your cat trusts you
Although cats have several ways of showing their trust, if your furry friend turns her back on you, it is a sure sign that she trusts you.
Cats both play the role of both predator and prey in the wild. That means they will always position themselves in such a way that they can easily look out for signs of dangers as well as potential prey. They do not want anything or anyone to sneak up or ambush them from behind. However, your furry friend knows that you are neither a threat nor prey, so instead of keeping an eye on you, she would rather face her surroundings to “see more”.
3. Your cat is displaying good manners
Has your cat ever jumped into your lap, rubbed her face against you, turned her back, and raised her tail as if presenting her bottom to you? This behavior might sound weird for humans, but in a cat’s world, it is actually a sign of good manners.
Cats normally greet each other through scents. To learn more about each other, they will rub and sniff each other from nose to tail. One cat will turn around to present her backside so that the other cat can get a good sniff, and vice versa. Such gestures are considered proper manners in feline etiquette.
Hence, if your cat turns her back and shows you her backside, she is being polite. But do not worry – you do not have to sniff her bottom to show your love! Simply give your kitty a good scratch or pat on the back, or wherever she likes it the most.
4. It is a request for protection
When your cat loves and trusts you, she will likely seek protection from you when she feels frightened or threatened. Even feral cats that live together in a colony need to have each other’s backs for protection.
So, when your cat sits with her back to you while facing a new pet or stranger, she may be asking you to safeguard her in the face of a potential threat.
5. You are treated as another cat
Although they are known for being independent and solitary hunters, cats can also be sociable. In the wild, they can adapt to living in a group or colony under certain conditions. And, when they make friends, they greet each other through nose sniffing, rubbing their bodies, and showing their backs. Cats also exchange scents as a way of communicating or expressing trust and affection.
They sometimes do the same to their human companions, as if treating them like big cats. This does not mean they cannot distinguish between humans and cats – they are simply behaving according to their instincts. So, your cat is treating you as she would treat other cats or animals, which is a good sign that she truly trusts you and enjoys your companionship.
Why does my cat sit on my lap with her back to me?
Cats show affection for their owners in many subtle ways, and that includes jumping on their laps and then turning their backs on their human companions. It might sound rude if you do not understand the basics of cat body language, but whether you believe it or not, cats are showing love and trust by showing their backs.
However, keep in mind that not all cats are in a happy mood when they turn their back to you. Sometimes, they might be feeling anxious and seeking comfort from you. They might be frightened by new scents around your home, or bothered by another pet and want you to protect them.
In any case, know that such behavior is your cat’s genuine way of showing her trust and affection, and receiving such a great compliment from a furry friend is pure joy for every cat owner!
Other cat body languages to know about
Cats can be expressive like their canine counterparts, despite their reputation for being cold and aloof. The problem is that it can be quite tricky to understand their body language. If we compare their gestures with the way humans socialize or interact, we might misinterpret their behavior as rude or disrespectful.
The good news is that you can learn certain aspects of cats’ body language so that you can develop a stronger bond with your feline. Know when Fluffy is angry or happy through these cat body languages:
- If your cat’s fur is puffed out and her ears are pinned back while turning her back to you, it is a sign of fear. She might be upset by another pet chasing her or by a visitor in your home.
- If your cat’s tail is moving back and forth while facing away from you, she is testing whether you are someone she can trust. Let Fluffy feel comfortable first before trying to cuddle. Respecting your cat’s boundaries will help you earn her genuine love and trust.
- A happy cat will meow and purr, even while sitting with her back to you. If you hear growling or hissing, she might be asking for your protection.
Wrapping it up
Many cat owners wonder why their fur babies sit with their backs to them. While it might sound strange or rude, cats are actually displaying great trust and affection when they sit in this vulnerable position. So, if your cat loves to sit on your lap while facing away from you, take heart – your cat just trusts you and is happy to be around you!
Image: istockphoto.com / taniche