Why Do Cats Act Weird When You Scratch Their Lower Back?

Cats love to be scratched and stroked by their human companions. In fact, some cats have been known to look for their owner’s attention all throughout the day. And for humans, scratching a cat while she lays on your lap or in front of your desk is an indescribable feeling of bonding and quality time together. But have you ever wondered why your little furry friend starts spazzing out whenever you scratch her on her lower back? Some of the most common responses to this lower back scratch are licking themselves, meowing, or licking the air – this looks almost comical in some cats, eliciting a chuckle from most cat parents!


Rear-end cat communication

Because cats can’t speak in the same language as we do, the many ways that cats communicate with humans is through smell, visual and body language. In this case, the body language used when we are scratching them represents different messages your cat is trying to send across to you.

Rear ends are very sensitive parts of a cat, and in the wild, cats use their rear ends as a form of scent introduction to each other. This is why you often see cats smell each other’s behinds when they first meet. This is an important part of their natural cat instincts, and shows that they share a bond with other cats that they trust. This is sometimes why when you sit with your cat, she’s probably showing off her derriere to you – this isn’t rude, rather, it’s one of the highest compliments you can ever receive!


Why cats act weird when you scratch their lower back

If your cat raises their rear ends while you pet or scratch their lower back, this is just so that they can increase the pressure against your fingers, in order to increase the pleasurable effects from the petting session. Because there is a high concentration of nerve endings at the base of the tail near their lower back, scratching that area results in a tickle-like sensation that is enjoyable for your cat – but only in controlled amounts. Like humans, tickling is fun for the first few times, but after a while, it just gets annoying and may even start to hurt!

There is another explanation for your cat’s weird reaction to being scratched on the lower back, and that is caused by the infantile behavior learnt as a kitten. During kittenhood, cats are reared by their mothers, and this rearing process includes cleaning and licking. When it’s time to clean the lower back, kittens will present that lower section of their body a lot closer to their mothers, because of a combination of pleasurable feelings and to make it easier for mum to clean them (and move on to the next one!)

Unlike the other parts of the body, the lower back is a region where cats find it hard to clean thoroughly – even the most flexible of felines have difficulty reaching the areas on their lower backs to groom. When you scratch your cat in those regions, she tries to get the most out of the scratching session, much like how kittens would act when a mama cat is cleaning them. The Licking action comes from the fact that the automatic response to grooming in cats is licking – so if you’re helping them groom, they automatically start licking other parts of their bodies or even the air to fulfill the grooming conditions, kind of like a psychomotor response.

By raising their lower back to you while you scratch, your cat is showing you that she appreciates it and this often leads to a belly flop, where you’ll have to continue the scratches around the rest of the body, too!

Finally, your cat may actually be trying to spread her scent from her anal sacs onto you – because as we all know, cats love to mark their territory through scent, whether it be rubbing against you with their bodies or nose. This is also another way for your cat to show to other cats that “this human is mine!”. If you think about it, that’s a sweet thing for her to do!


Avoid too much stimulation

It’s worth noting that each individual cat has their own tolerances for scratching sensations on their lower back, so if your cat starts meowing or yowling at you when you scratch their lower back for too long, then it’s probably wise to stop what you’re doing. More often than not, meowing is a last resort to send a message across to you, and if the lower back scratching session starts becoming annoying or painful, your cat will immediately let you know to stop what you’re doing – or run the risk of being scratched back or bitten!

In some cases, your cat may also be suffering from things like skin allergies, or impacted anal sacs that may cause them to feel a high level of discomfort when they get scratched on the lower back. If your cat automatically starts looking uncomfortable and meowing in distress, this means you’ll need to book a trip to the vet immediately to have it looked at.


Final thoughts

The daily scratching is something that your cat really enjoys and looks forward to every day when you’re both together. However, in most situations too much of a good thing can often result in bad outcomes. The easiest way to know if you’re overstimulating your cat when you’re scratching their lower back region is to see if she acts upset, moves away or turns around as if she’s going to bite you. This means she probably is getting annoyed at the sensation and is telling you to stop immediately. Otherwise, your cat will lean into your petting when she feels calm and happy, and ask for more whenever you stop. Hopefully this article has helped you understand why cats act weird when you scratch their lower back!

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