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Why Do Cats Stretch?

  • 4 min read

Cats Stretching

Of all feline behaviors, stretching is undoubtedly one of the most practiced rituals by cats . Cats can stretch their muscles and tendons in different ways: they roll into a ball, make flexion-extension movements with their hind legs or take advantage of a jump to stretch their limbs, displaying extraordinary flexibility and agility. in the mammalian kingdom.

There are physiological, but also behavioral reasons for these very common movements in cats: here are the main explanations for the fact that cats stretch.

Cat stretching

Reasons for why cats stretch? 

Stretching prepares muscles and tendons for action

Like many animals, the cat, when waking up, stretches . This instinctive movement wakes up the tendons and muscles by quickly eliminating the toxins with which they may be loaded: stretching the muscle fibers helps limit the proliferation of lactic acid and expels carbon dioxide which, during sleep, accumulated in the muscles.

During this phase, and unlike the dog which is not provided at this level, it can simultaneously make its claws , which also allows the terminal tendons and connective tissues at the level of the legs to be stretched, thus preparing the latter for movement. , like a joint release.

Stretching upon waking up therefore helps prepare the psycho-motor system for action: in cats, it will be for hunting or playing!

Cat stretching over his back

By stretching, the cat improves its blood circulation

In the same vein as the elimination of toxins, stretching helps stimulate the cardiovascular system and promote blood circulation in the organs, and more particularly the muscles.

This helps prepare the body more quickly for functioning at full capacity, especially since the cat is a heavy sleeper: it can take up to 15 naps each day! When we doze off or enter deep sleep, blood pressure drops because the body begins to slow down. Stretching, upon waking up, allows you to readjust the latter, and wake up all the organs with a blood flow more consistent with the general functioning of the body.

It gives him a feeling of well-being

Stretching “does good” for the body, and from a hormonal point of view, releases a small dose of endorphin , which promotes a feeling of well-being. When a cat is anxious or stressed, it may stretch profusely to cause this hormonal release.

In the same way, stretching stimulates a whole bunch of mechanisms in the body:

  • the lymphatic system
  • immune system
  • oxygenation (by blood flow)

All of these elements create a feeling of well-being in the body: this is one of the reasons why cats can stretch so often.

A flexible cat stretching

He shows affection

When you pet a cat with whom you share a trusting relationship, it is not uncommon for the latter to show its belly, a sign that it feels perfectly safe by your side.

It is in this position that he is likely, very often, to stretch, as if to indicate his well-being and his affection towards you. By exposing her stomach, it exposes one of the most sensitive areas of her body, where all of her vital organs are easily accessible. 

He therefore grants you, by stretching out on his back or on his side, his complete confidence, seeking caresses! Stretching is part of his body communication, which he can also demonstrate when he practices kneading, a movement if there is one in body language intended to show affection.

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Hamna Nasir is a dedicated cat lover, avid traveler, and accomplished author. Born and raised in the bustling city of San Francisco, Hamna's education journey led her to Boston where her interests expanded and intersected in unexpected ways. Hamna's ontent explores a multitude of topics, from preparing your cat for its first trip and choosing pet-friendly accommodations to understanding feline behavior in different environments. Her first-hand experiences, love for storytelling, and unwavering commitment to enhancing the bond between cats and their owners have earned her a devoted following. Her insights have been celebrated by pet lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and travel bloggers alike.