cats walking on back legs cats walking on back legs
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Stand Up On Their Hind Legs?

Have you ever seen your cat standing on its rear legs like a meerkat or prairie dog? While this move is endearing to human owners, it serves a useful purpose in the wild as a survival technique.

Cats stand on their hind legs to make themselves look bigger and scare off predators. This is a survival tactic used by mesopredators to frighten off threatening animals. Also, cats that stand on their back legs might be trying to get their owners’ attention, reach for treats or toys, or satisfy their own curiosity.

With so many reasons behind your cat’s two-legged stance, it might take some observation work and analysis before you understand what your cat wants or is attempting to achieve.

Why Do Cats Stand on Two Legs?

Some cats regularly stand on their hind legs, and it’s not uncommon for them to walk around in that position. However, it can be confusing the first time a cat makes this move. Let’s explore the reasons:

Warding Off Predators

Some cats stand on two legs when predators are nearby. Therefore, the move is a survival tactic that allows the cat to appear larger than it actually is. A cat may also puff up its tail and shuffle sideways while standing on two legs to expand its size. This allows the cat to frighten off dangerous animals.

As well as a two-legged stance, a cat will begin to hiss and growl if the predator comes too close. The cat is getting ready for a fight but is doing its best to diffuse the situation. Cats won’t fight unless they need to do so.

Being Nosey

Cats are curious creatures. If a cat has spotted something out of a window or has noticed a bug on the ceiling, it will stand on its hind legs to get a closer look. 

According to Science Direct, a cat has one of the broadest hearing ranges among mammals. They can hear sounds clearly that humans can’t, so when they hear something that attracts their attention, they will investigate.

Getting Petted

It’s no secret that cats love to be petted, but if you’re not dishing out the love as much as your cat would like, it may take matters into its own paws by standing up to receive a head bop. This move will undoubtedly get an owners’ attention. Coupled with the fact that a cat looks so cute while doing it, who can resist?

Reach Treats

Most cats are tuned in to the rustling of a treat bag. So, when you get them out of the cupboard, an excited cat will stand on its hind legs to get a closer look. If the cat understands that standing on its hind legs gets a good reaction from its human, it might do so more regularly to earn more treats.

Special Needs

Some special needs cats can only move around on their hind legs. Dubbed the kangaroo cats by their fans, several cats born without front legs have burst onto the social media scene.

Cats without front legs or paws use their hind legs to walk around. Their legs become so strong that affected cats can use them to hop around. If any part of their front legs remains, they will often use them to gain balance or push themselves off the ground.

cat standing on hind legs fighting

How To Get Your Cat To Stand Up

You can teach a cat many tricks, including how to stand on its hind legs. If you want to encourage your cat to rise like a meerkat, follow these steps:

Get Your Cat’s Attention

Begin the training process by attracting your cat’s attention. Treats are the easiest way to do this, as you can use them for positive reinforcement.

Start by holding a tasty treat in front of your cat’s nose. Let your cat have a sniff to pique its interest. Before you feed it to your cat, pull the treat up out of reach so that your cat’s attention is on you.

Encourage Standing

Give a command, like “stand,” for example. Always reward the behavior, or your cat won’t have a reason to attempt the trick. To encourage your cat to stand, place the treat near your cat’s nose again and pull it up as it reaches for it. Keep repeating this until your cat begins to rise. Move the treat higher each time.

Reward the Behavior

In time, you’ll want your cat to stand up on its hind legs on command. If you see your cat standing up naturally throughout the day, perhaps because it’s curious about something, shout your command and then reward your cat. Your cat will begin to associate the command with standing up on its hind legs without needing a treat.

Cat Breeds That Stand on Hind Legs

Some cat breeds are more prone to standing on their hind legs than others. This can be for various factors, but it often helps a cat with its everyday life. These are the most likely breeds to stand upright:

Munchkin

Munchkin cats are a controversial breed. While experts argue that the Munchkin is a healthy breed, some cats have lordosis, which is where the spinal muscles grow too short, making the spine sink down into the cat’s body.

As described in BMC Genetics, Munchkin cats were founded on a naturally occurring mutation. Short-legged cats show disproportionate dwarfism (chondrodysplasia), in which all four legs are short. As a result, Munchkins are known for standing on their hind legs.

Because of their short legs, Munchkins can stand tall while keeping their body perfectly balanced. As they are closer to the ground than most other cats, this move allows them to look around at their surroundings. Despite their stature, they are good jumpers and climbers and can walk, move and hop about on their hind legs.

why do cats stand on two legs?

Scottish Fold

Some Scottish Fold cats have picked up the same gene found in the Munchkin cat breed due to recent breeding programs. This caused shortened forelegs and hind legs.

Scottish Folds are known for their human-like behaviors. They often sit with their hind legs displayed in front of them. And if something piques their interest, they will stand up to see what is going on.

Most Scottish Fold cats are affected by SFOCD, which is characterized by skeletal abnormalities. Cats with the disease have weak cartilage that isn’t strong enough to support their bodies. This includes not only the ears but the metacarpal bones, phalanges, and caudal vertebrae. Affected cats may be reluctant to jump and feel pain when they run or walk.

Is It Bad For Cats To Stand On Their Hind Legs?

A cat that stands on its rear legs regularly or for too long will place more stress on its hips, which could lead to pelvic injuries. For this reason, owners should encourage this endearing behavior too often.

When a cat decides to stand on its back legs, it’s rarely a problem. Cats make this move to satisfy their curiosity or get their owners’ attention to receive petting or food. However, cats will stand on their hind legs if they see another rival animal and want to make themselves seem larger.