Critter Culture
Your Cat's Raised Butt Decoded

Your Cat's Raised Butt Decoded

Critter Culture Staff



In the animal world, there are some behaviors that perplex humans. Cats especially tend to do some things perceived as odd. One of these moves is raising their butts when you're scratching them.

On the surface, it seems bizarre. But once you realize the reasons behind it, you'll see that it's all about communication. Your furry friend is trying to speak to you, so it's important to know what they're trying to say.


Communicating as a kitten

Shot of a kitten sitting on floor and stretching legs NickyLloyd / Getty Images

Raising their rear end, also called elevator butt, is an instinctive maneuver built into a kitten from birth. Up until a few weeks old, a baby can't do too much in the line of personal function and care. A mother has to lick the hind area to stimulate excretion, then clean it afterward.

Kittens naturally put their body in the best position for this routine maintenance: chest lowered and hind end in the air. Since cats often hold on to behaviors from their youth, one reason elevator butt continues is that it takes them back to this time and its associated feelings.


A cordial greeting

Cat wake up and stretching on bed near open laptop Anna Gorbacheva / Getty Images

Giving you the elevator butt is a simple way of your cat saying hello. This presentation tells you they're around and could use a bit of attention. It's a signal you can't avoid seeing, so perhaps it's time to get the toys out to play, feed them, or embark on an awesome petting session.


You hit the right spot

person petting cat Chalabala / Getty Images

A cat's sweet spot varies from one kitty to the next. It may be easy to find, but sometimes finicky felines make the process a tad bit complicated. Once you discover it, though, they'll melt like butter. Elevator butt is telling you this. It conveys a sense of euphoria and implicit trust. All is right with the world in their eyes.

Aside from pleasure, hitting this spot may also be lending your precious buddy a hand. Maybe it's an area they can't reach, especially if they have long fur. Getting down to the skin might be giving them itch relief, which feels heavenly.


A happy and content kitty

Stretching tabby Orange Cat. © nico piotto / Getty Images

Sure, there's a lot of analysis involved with elevator butt. Yet a simple rule of thumb is that it's an instinctive way for your cat to show it's happy and content. They're living the dream and want you to know. Your kitty is telling you they're comfortable by demonstrating this open and trusting position.


The mating game

cat stretching outdoors Daniela Frattaruolo / EyeEm / Getty Images

There are many cat owners who feel female cats tend to raise their butts way more than their male counterparts. In female cats that aren't spayed, a reason for this behavior is because they're in heat. This is called estrus, and you'll notice elevator butt is a classic sign. Yet keep in mind that even spayed kitties often revert to this behavior instinctively.

When a female cat assumes this position in estrus, it's known as lordosis. At this time, your cat may be vocal and demanding. When you're petting them, you're actually stimulating their mating response: this lordosis causes your cat to crouch on their front legs, arch their backs, and hold up their rear end.


Transferring their scent

cat stretching Alexandra Jursova / Getty Images

As independent animals, cats don't have an intuitive pack nature. Transferring their scent is a behavior reserved for the most trusted of companions, felines, and otherwise. If your kitty is giving you the elevator butt, they may be telling you that you're part of their elite crew.

This members-only signal, in their eyes, is sharing all sorts of information with you. Anal glands secrete a cat's scent, so that's why they're elevating their hind end. They want you to know about them.


A cat's chemical reaction

Brown tabby cat stretching liebre / Getty Images

Oxytocin and dopamine are naturally-occurring chemicals in the body. If a cat is enjoying a grooming session, these chemicals are released. They're important factors that make your kitty feel oh-so-good: they signal the pleasure and contentment areas of the brain. Obviously, your cat likes this feeling and wants it to continue, indicating this sentiment by raising its butt.


The nerve-ending zone

cat stretching outdoors sdominick / Getty Images

The brunt of a feline's nerve endings is at the base of their tails, which is a hard place for them to reach. Operating in tandem with chemical releases, it's a feel-good zone for some cats, but not all. It could be a hypersensitive area that causes pain or annoyance, so in this case, back off. Yet if your furball is giving you the go-ahead by raising their hind end, they want you to continue petting them there.


Something's dirty

Red cat stretching himself

Felines are notoriously clean creatures, but sometimes they can run into problems. If there's a dirty area they can't get to due to excessive fur or lack of reach, they want it dealt with quickly.

There may be something stuck in the rear area your cat can't manage on their own, and they need your assistance. Wet a cloth with warm water and help your little friend by dislodging anything that shouldn't be there.


Intestinal problems

cat stretching All copyrights reserved by Harris Hui / Getty Images

Overall, elevator butt is a favorable cat reaction. But if your cat's behavior seems a bit off when they're lifting their behind, something may be wrong. Don't hesitate to call your vet and make an appointment if your kitty's disposition changes, as this could be a sign of illness.

Intestinal problems are often the culprit. Maybe your buddy ate something harsh, and the discomfort is only temporary. But don't leave this to chance because it could also be a sign of a blockage or other complications.


What Is Cushing's Disease in Dogs?

What Is Cushing's Disease in Dogs?

Get your paws on the latest animal news and information