Why Do Cats Wiggle Their Butts Before They Pounce?
As many pet owners will attest, when their cat prepares to pounce,
it does a little butt wiggle first.
This butt-wiggling pounce lasts just a few moments as the feline crouches down low and wiggles its rear end before launching itself at its target … which is sometimes your feet under the blankets.
There hasn't been any formal research yet on this quirky behavior, but one scientist who studies animal locomotion said he had a few ideas about why kitty does a twerk-like shimmy before its ambush.
"The short answer is science does not know; the butt-wiggling has not been studied, to my knowledge, in an experimental context," said John Hutchinson, a professor of evolutionary biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in London.
According to Hutchinson, butt-wiggling may help press the hindlimbs into the ground to give cats added friction (traction) for pushing them forward in the pounce. "It may also have a sensory role to prepare the vision, proprioception [an awareness of one's position and movement] and muscle — and whole cat — for the rapid neural commands needed for the pounce," Hutchinson noted.
Butt wiggling may also give the cat an aerobic warm-up, of sorts.
"It probably does stretch the muscles a bit and that might help with pouncing," Hutchinson told Live Science. "And we can't exclude that it's just fun for cats; they do it because they are excited by the thrill of the hunt [and] prey."
Domesticated cats aren't alone in this behavior; wild cats — yes, even fierce creatures such as lions, tigers and jaguars, shake their derrières before striking (just hopefully not your feet).