What’s With Cats and All That Stretching?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
fast facts

Cats are able to contort their bodies into all kinds of positions when they stretch. Here’s what experts say about cats and their nimble stretching habits.

Like little yogis, cats always make time to stretch. You might have noticed that your kitty likes to stretch her limbs when she wakes up from a nap, after eating or playing, or even when she is asking for attention or food. It’s really cute, but you may be wondering why she does it so often. After all, isn’t just one long stretch in the morning good enough? Well, it turns out that there might be several interesting reasons why felines do this.

So, what’s with all that stretching? Experts have their theories, and a few of them are listed below.

A Good Stretch After a Nice Nap

Like you, cats like to stretch after waking up from a nap because, well, it feels great! After lying in the same position for so long, it’s nice to let the limbs extend while lengthening and stretching out the muscles. Think about it: after you take a nap to recharge your battery during the day, or when you wake up in the morning, one of the first things you might want to do is stretch your body so you can get movement back into your muscles and joints. The same is true of cats who have spent time curled up getting some rest. It’s so simple, yet it makes so much sense, right?

Related: Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

But stretching upon waking isn’t only done to help the muscles feel good. Beyond that, stretching could help boost blood flow throughout the body, which is important since cats love to spend up to 16 hours of their day asleep. After all of that inactivity, felines will typically move through a few stretches to get the blood flowing, activate the muscles, and increase blood pressure, as a kitty’s blood pressure naturally drops whenever she is sleeping too. All of that equates to feeling alert and ready to eat, play, and do other fun cat things.

Keeping Things Limber and Prepared for Action

If you go long periods of time without stretching and moving your body, you’ll end up feeling stiff and your range of motion could become limited. Once again, the same is true for cats. Keeping the body in motion is important, but that’s difficult to do when you can’t move freely because of stiffness or tightness in the muscles. Kitties must know this because, when you watch them stretch out, they move their bodies in ways that show they want to keep their spines flexible and their joints limber. For example, you might see your cat arching the back or extending the front legs forward while lifting the tail when standing.

By moving their joints and stretching their muscles, kitties are keeping their bodies flexible so they can jump high, tackle prey, and run with speed and agility. Put simply, by keeping the muscle fibers elongated with the help of various stretches, kitties can ensure that they are always ready to spring into action whenever necessary. Plus, being so flexible is likely also really helpful when it comes to grooming and cleaning all of those hard-to-reach places on the body, like the back and belly.

Related: Why Do Cats Meow at Night?

A Little Bit of Detox

After being inactive for a while, toxins and waste, such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide, may build up within your cat’s body. But your kitty has a solution to this problem: when your frisky feline stretches upon waking, she is not only working on getting her muscles moving, but she is also helping her body flush those toxins out. Pretty smart, right?

You might consider all of that stretching a natural form of detoxification, as the movements could help boost not only blood circulation, but also the lymph circulation that helps clean the body from the inside. Again, your feline friend instinctively knows that it is so important to stretch after inactivity and sleep, so when you see your pet getting into yet another “yoga pose,” you’ll understand why she’s doing it so many times throughout the day.

Showing You Some Love

There are a lot of ways that your cat communicates her feelings with you. And as you get to know your pet better, you’ll be able to more easily decipher what she is trying to tell you through body language. Well, it turns out that your cat’s stretches might also serve as an indication that she cares about you.

Has your cat ever stretched out on her back in front of you, and perhaps even extended a paw towards you? That’s a sign that she is totally comfortable around you and she is even willing to expose her delicate belly to you because she trusts you that much. So, in addition to stretching out because it feels fabulous, this could also be your kitty’s way of letting you know that she really digs you.

What If Your Cat Isn’t Stretching as Much?

A cat’s behavior can change with age, so you might notice that your furbaby starts showcasing different habits as she gets older. If you start to see that she isn’t stretching as much as she used to, you might be wondering why.

According to experts, there are several things that might alert you to the fact that your pet is in pain, such as changes in personality, vocalizations, and activity level, as well as less stretching. So, if your cat isn’t acting like herself, it’s a great idea to consult with a veterinarian to see what’s causing the changes in her behavior, and to see what you can do to help her feel good again.

Cats Have Many Good Reasons to Stretch So Often

As you can see, cats have some pretty good reasons for doing all of that stretching throughout the day. After sitting for an extended period of time or taking a long nap, your furry friend knows exactly how to get the body moving again and how to loosen up her muscles and joints so she can be the playful and active kitty that she was meant to be. And this behavior might even serve as a great reminder that you, too, should make it a point to stretch and keep your body flexible every day.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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