Why Do Cats Stick Their Bum In The Air When You Pet Them?

Why Do Cats Stick Their Bum In The Air When You Pet Them

Cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them because that is a cat’s positive response to the fact that you have hit the right spot when petting them. This action is lovingly called “elevator butt.” Not all cats enjoy being scratched along the spine or at the tail base, but if your cat does, you have probably seen the elevator going up.

If your cat sticks its bum in the air when you pet it and you want to know more about this behavior, keep on reading.

Why do cats stick their bum in the air when you pet them?

Cats like to be petted; this is most obvious when they raise their backs and bums when you are nearby. Here are some reasons why cats do this:

1. Your cat trusts you.

When cats lift their back and rear, they are telling you that they trust you and appreciate all that you do for them. When you pet them on the back and they raise their back or rear, they might also be trying to make petting feel better for themselves by providing more force.

2. Your cat likes the spot you are petting.

If your cat does the elevator butt while you are petting them, they might be telling you that you have hit the right spot and they want you to keep on petting them at the base of the tail, their hips, or tail. Some cats are especially fond of pets in those areas, while other cats are not.

3. Your female cat is in heat.

If your female cat is unspayed, she might be doing the elevator butt to display entirely different behavior. When female cats are in heat, they raise their bums in the air because this is how they would present for a male cat. Your best option when your cat is doing this is to wait for the heat to pass, then take them to the vet to get spayed.

4. Your cat retained this behavior from kittenhood.

The other common reason cats raise their backs and bums is that it is reminiscent of behaviors they had as kittens. Once your cat trusts you and cares for you, they will think of you partially as a surrogate mother.

Like their mother, you feed, pet, and groom them. You give them attention, entertainment, and support. Mother cats help groom the back half of their kittens since it takes the kittens a while before they can reach those areas themselves. Some of that behavior likely comes from remembering their mother grooming them as kittens.

5. Your cat wants you to help it scratch an itch.

Cats may raise their back hips and lower back because these are relatively difficult places for them to reach while grooming. They might be itchy there or think the gentle massage of patting and petting feels good.

Why do cats like having their bum patted?

For some cats, bum pets are the best possible pets. They will immediately “elevator butt” when you are paying attention to them. Some cats even get upset with people who are not willing to scratch their hips.

Your cat enjoys the sensation because there are many nerve endings at the base of their tails and around their hips. Since those areas are also a lot harder for your cat to reach, they rely on you and possibly your other cats to help them scratch those itches and stimulate those nerves.

Cats may also be using this position to help spread their scent. Cats have anal scent glands as well as some scent glands at the base of their tails. Some cats seem to dislike using those scent glands on people, while others think it is an essential part of marking their territory and their favorite people.

Do not worry because you will not be able to smell the scent from those glands. The smell is all about communicating with other cats. While your cat thinks it is essential to make you smell like them, you will not need to take a shower after this kind of petting.

Why do some cats not like their backs touched?

On the other hand, there are cats that do not like having their backs scratched. When your cat refuses to let you touch their back, it is not a sign that they do not like or trust you. Early in your relationship, that could be the reason, but a well-socialized cat with an established relationship with you may just not like getting pets in that area.

They might not like being touched there because there are a lot of nerve endings along their back and near the tail. Most sensitive cats may think getting pets in those areas feel like being tickled, which they do not like.

However, if your cat normally loves getting their back and bum scratched, but all of a sudden seems like it is in real distress when its back is touched, you might have to take it to the vet. Cats can suffer from a slipped disc like humans, and a sudden pain along their back might be a sign of the condition.

Another common cause of pain along a cat’s back is kidney problems. If your cat has kidney issues, it might start avoiding getting pets along its back.

How do cats like to be petted?

There is no one sure petting trick that all cats love. You can try to figure out what works for your cat by trying different petting styles until you find one that your cat will enjoy. Purring and rubbing are the most apparent signs of enjoyment.


Cats raise their backs and bums when you pet them to communicate trust and appreciation. Female cats will also raise their bums when they are in heat as a way to display themselves to males. Cats retain kitten behavior when they raise their bums towards you because they see you as a surrogate parent. Or cats may just like raising their bums further into your hand as you pet them,to apply more force so their itches can be scratched more deeply.

Image: istockphoto.com / npdesignde