Why Do Cats Raise Their Butts When You Pet Them?

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Cat exhibiting the classic behavior of raising its butt, highlighting their communication through body language.

Sometimes, when you’re giving your cat a bit of a fuss, you’ll find they lift their butt as you stroke down their back. This “elevator butt” is just another example of slightly odd cat behavior that we humans might not instantly understand!

But there’s method behind their madness, and by raising their bum in their air cats might actually be trying to tell you something. Let’s find out what it might mean.

Why Do Cats Raise Their Butts When You Stroke Them?

Here are some of the common reasons why cats might raise their butt when you stroke or scratch them:

1. They’re Enjoying It

One of the most likely and loveliest reasons for your cat raising their butt or arching their back when you stroke them is that they want you to keep going! By lifting their bum and tail, they’re getting closer to you and almost forcing you to hit the right spot!

It’s a massive compliment and means they’re enjoying your attention and affection. So, go on, give them another scratch for good measure!

2. They’re in Season

When female cats are in season, their behavior changes drastically. They’re usually more vocal and they might writhe around and rub against you. It’s actually quite common for cat owners to mistakenly think they’re in pain.

Fear not, though, this is normal behavior for cats who are in estrus. They often adopt the lordosis position, with their bottom raised and their tail held to one side. This is because they’re preparing for mating or trying to attract a male.

3. It’s Their Instinct

When cats are very young kittens, their mother will do all their grooming. Kittens will often push their butts towards their mom during this bonding moment, to help her get them clean and to make sure she reaches all the right spots.

4. They’re Greeting You

Energetic and joyful cat, radiating excitement and happiness in its surroundings.

Cats often raise their butts up when greeting other cats, and they sometimes do this to humans, too.

Cats will often give other cats’  butts a sniff as a form of greeting. Although it’s not socially acceptable behavior for humans, for cats it’s pretty normal! This behavior can extend to raising their butt or sticking their bum in your face when they’re greeting their humans!

5. They Have Fleas

Pesky parasites like fleas can make your cat really itchy, especially around their back end. So, if your cat seems particularly keen for you to scratch their butt, or if they start doing little scratching movements with their hind legs, you might have a flea infestation on your hands.

Keep an eye out for coarse-feeling fur, bald patches, red bumps, or scabs on the skin. You might even see live fleas crawling around or spot some black sandy flea dirt.

6. They’re Itchy

Even if your cat doesn’t have any parasites, they could still be itchy. Allergies and infections are just some of the reasons for itchiness. If your cat suddenly seems keen for you to scratch a particular area, watch out for signs that the skin is sore, red, or inflamed or that they are overgrooming.

7. They’re Scent Marking

Cats have scent glands in lots of places in the skin all over their body. The highest numbers of scent glands tend to be around their face, paws, and tail base. When you brush your hand against them, you’ll pick up their smelly compounds known as pheromones.

As humans, our sense of smell isn’t that great, so you probably won’t notice it. However, these pheromones are a crucial part of cat communication. By marking you with their scent, they’re not just letting other cats know that you’re bonded with them, they’re also reassuring themselves by surrounding themselves with their familiar scent.

8. There’s a Health Issue

sick cat

If your cat is raising their butt and also moving or acting strangely, bring them in for a vet checkup.

It’s unusual for a cat raising their rears to be a sign of a problem. That being said, it’s important to get any behavior change checked out by a veterinarian, just in case. After all, if your cat suddenly starts raising their butt, or moving their back or tail differently, it could be a sign of itchiness, fleas, spine pain, or sensitivity.

It could even be a symptom of a cat bite abscess at the base of the tail or an issue with their anal glands or nerves.

Do You Need To Worry if Your Cat Raises Their Butt When You Touch Them?

Most of the time, it’s normal cat behavior for cats to lift their bum and tail when you touch them. It usually means that they’re enjoying the moment and want you to continue giving them a good scratch.

However, if you’ve never noticed your cat do it before, then suddenly they start doing it regularly, it’s best not to dismiss it as a sign of love or happiness. Itchy or irritated skin, parasites, or pain could all cause your cat’s posture to change when you stroke them. So, speak to your vet and book a checkup.

Also Read: Why Do Cat Tails Shake Or Quiver?


Thankfully, in most scenarios, it’s normal for cats to raise their tails and back end when they’re being stroked. However, no one knows your furry family member better than you do. So, if you think there’s something not right, or your cat is behaving differently from normal, it’s best to get some expert advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cat raising her bum?

Cats raise the base of their tails for lots of reasons, but it’s usually a sign they want you to keep going and that you’re scratching in just the right spot that they can’t easily reach. Your stroking will also be helping with the transfer of pheromones, so they’ll be comforting themselves and making themselves feel safe and secure, as well as letting other felines know you belong to them.

Female cats who are not neutered will also raise their back end when they’re in season. If your cat’s behavior has changed, though, it could be a sign of a health issue. In that case, you should contact a veterinarian or certified veterinary behaviorist for advice.

Why do cats raise their hindquarters when you pet them?

Cats usually raise their bottoms when you pet them because they’re enjoying it. However, it could also be because their skin is itchy due to fleas, an allergy, or another cause. It might also mean that they’re experiencing pain or discomfort in their back or tail.

Why do female cats lift their bum?

If your cat hasn’t been spayed, they might be lifting their bum because they’re in season. The lordosis position is something female cats do when they are ready to mate, and it involves raising their back end and holding their tail to one side.

If your female cat is in season, you might also notice them yowling and being generally very noisy, and they’ll probably be desperate to get outside.

Why do cats lift their tail when you pet them?

There are a variety of reasons cats lift their tails when they’re petted. Usually, it’s because they’re happy and want you to continue petting them because it feels good. However, if they haven’t always behaved this way, it could be a sign of a problem, so it’s best to ask your veterinarian to check for an underlying issue.

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About Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVETMED MRCVS

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but as the small animal hospital became busier, she focussed on small animals. Hannah is an expert on cat behavior and nutrition.

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