Why Does My Cat Kick Itself?

I don’t know about you, but one of the many reasons why I adore cats so much is their weird and unpredictable behaviour. Some moves that cats do are so original and can never be seen in any other animal. But this is exactly what makes them so fun to have around and why they can still surprise you even years after living together.

There are many different weird cat behaviours you must have noticed by now, and if you dive into them you’ll find out that the reason behind each of them is probably nothing that you’ve ever expected. For instance you will find out that most of them, even the ones that seem to come from no where, are actually weird ways of your cat showing affection towards you.

One of those strange moves that cats often do is kicking themselves, it’s something that has been known among the feline-community as the ‘bunny kick’. It’s a certain type of behaviour that usually happens when you reach out to pet / play with your cat and she rolls onto her back, wraps her legs around your arms and attempts to kick you with her hind legs. It’s nothing really serious, but if you don’t know why it happens and how to control it, you might get out of it scratched and injured.

Why Cats Kick Themselves

The bunny-kicking behaviour might seem strange at first, but there are few reasonable explanations behind it. The two main reasons why your cat has been acting this way is that either your cat kicks with her hind legs because she’s been engaged in a playful behaviour, similar to wrestling with dogs, or because she’s trying to act defensive and fight when she wants to be left alone.

The motive behind this behavior depends on the circumstances, so in order to recognise why your cat is doing it, you will need to learn a bit more about how to tell what’s triggering her to act this way at any given situation. Because while playtime kicks are often something that happen when your cat gets carried away, the defensive kick is something you really want to avoid.

Playtime Type Of Kicks

Sometimes when playing with your cat she might at one moment roll over on her back, grasp your hands and start kicking them with her paws. This is a behaviour that can be seen when parent cats play with their children. But even though this kicking comes from a good place, and all your cat wants to do is play, it can get a bit uncomfortable once your cat gets carried away. It’s in your cat’s genes to try to pull back the prey that is trying to run away from her. So this is why, during play, if she gets carried away, her instincts may push her into doing more intense hind leg kicks or even start showing some defensive aggression.

Cats do this playful bunny kick while playing with toys too, usually big and fluffy ones. If you search for it, you’ll see that there are even special toys made for exactly this type of play. Those toys are usually called kick-bags and most of the time look like a long tube filled with catnip stuffing.

Even if you believe your cat would never harm you and seriously scratch you when she does the playful bunny kick, try to avoid using your hands as toys in situations like these. Plus, it’s not good to support this behaviour, because this way you might accidentally teach your cat that it’s ok to scratch or bite you. Also be careful, while playing, your cat should never growl, hiss or scream, that’s a sign of aggression, and that’s when you’ll know your cat is definitely not playing, whether it’s with you or another cat.

Defensive Type Of Kicks

When a cat is about to get attacked or is in the middle of an attack, she will defensively roll onto her back. This is the more serious, and not really fun reason for the bunny-kick. In a real fight, your cat would grab her opponent with her forelimbs to kick them at the exposed abdomen. Cats are fast animals that do not prefer long fights, but instead try to end things as quick as possible with one strong kick that will make the opponent retreat.

Unlike the playful bunny kick which happens when you use your arms as a toy, this one is a serious and direct way of your cat telling you that she doesn’t want to play or interact with you. Usually it will happen immediately after you will start petting your cat. Although sometimes she might try to signal you in other ways before actually doing the bunny kick, like trying to move away, meow, or nip your fingers.

How To Avoid Making Your Cat Kick

What triggers cats most of the time is petting them on the stomach. Usually cats don’t like having their tummy touched, and especially not when they’ve exposed it completely in confidence in your presence while enjoying a nap. Touching your cat on the stomach might trigger an immediate defensive reaction, regardless of how much she loves and trusts you. To prevent this type of behaviour, try avoiding petting your cat on the stomach and instead choose a safer place to cuddle her.

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