Cats: The Wiggle and Pounce

So, we’ve all seen it from our cats: the wind up wiggle before jumping or springing up onto something. Some cats do a small wiggle and others, like my guy, wiggle for so long that the pounce is often anti-climatic. There are countless videos of cats wiggling and some have been made in to a meme.

The question is: Why do they wiggle?

Well, it’s not just little house kitties who wiggle. Big cats like tigers and leopards also have the pre-wiggle pounce. It seems to be, as we can guess, in preparation to a successful pounce and for big cats who hunt, that can mean catching their prey. So, we all kind of guess that, right?

But, the wiggle helps line up the back legs. It also can help a cat assess how strong or level the ground is underneath them for the jump. The wiggle helps cats balance and also prepares their legs muscles for the big push. It’s kind of how we may take a few small practice swings with a bat or golf club.

The wiggling may be innate and possibly also learned. If you’ve had several cats in your life, you may notice some of them wiggle more than others. I have two cats. One hardly wiggles, he just jumps and pounces and sometimes doesn’t get his toy. The other one wiggles and wiggles and wiggles and jumps farther and lands harder on his toy. I have no idea how long my wiggle cat was with his litter before he was up for adoption. My less wiggly cat I found at 5 weeks old, so maybe he wasn’t taught how long to wind up before pouncing? Who knows.

Some veterinarians believe this movement also is a way for cats to shake out their muscles the way an athlete does before a game. It’s a “warm up” and may just be the cat version of flexing and runs in tandem with dopamine flowing that flows during hunting or playing.

Do you have a video of your cat wiggling? Share it with us!

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