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Why does my cat wiggle the top of his bum with his tail straight up in the air?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

Hi Dr. Jon - We have a ginger colored cat. White paws and Orange fur. In all aspects one of the sweetest little kitties I have ever had. He does a rather peculiar kind of behavior. No trouble or problem with it. But it is just odd or unique.

When I am on my computer working away he will come in to say hello to me doing figure 8's around my legs as cats do. But almost without fail the first thing he does is stop and wiggle the top of his bum with his tail straight up in the air. It is something he virtually always does when he comes to say hello. We started noticing it and then really paid attention to it.

He will come in, stop, tail up and wiggle his bum or shake his bum area. Almost like a short tailed dog wagging his tail. We don't know if this is a greeting or a sign of nervousness.

He is very at home with us now so we can only assume it is some kind of a greeting he is doing. He is very sweet but just a little different. By the way his name is Cheddar.

Dave Jackson


Answer

Hi Dave– thanks for your email. That was a very good question and description of Cheddar's behavior. I know exactly what you are talking about. Many cats will greet you, sometime rub against you with their tail up then wiggle their rear and sort of "twitch" their tails.

My opinion of this behavior is that it is more than a "greeting" but also dominance and marking behavior. Some cats do that same behavior and "spray" which releases a scent that marks their territory. Some cats will go through the motions without actually spraying.

Dave, this is not a big worry. It is normal for many cats. It can also be a precursor to spraying in a small percentage of cats. Because of that, I am cautious. Inappropriate urination and spraying is one of the most common behavioral reasons cats are given to shelters, turned out of homes or euthanized.

I'd recommend a few things – first, make sure he is neutered. Next, make sure he has plenty of stimulation and play. Know his play type and ensure he has toys. To help, read Cat Toys - Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cats Play Preference. Next, make sure he has a stimulating environment. Read Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat.

Another thing that you can try is a commercial pheromone product such as Feliway® or Farnam Comfort Zone for Cats with Feliway that releases happy cat scents into the environment. If he is sensing any "stress" – this may help.

An article that might be helpful to you is Why Do Cats Spray?

Best of luck!


Dr. Jon





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