Cats are known for their odd behavior and that can leave pet owners either chuckling or scratching their heads in curiosity. While things like a cat kicking themselves or biting their legs seem odd, there are practical reasons why felines do these things.
Why do cats kick themselves or bite their legs? The most common reason for this behavior is they want your attention and likely want to play. However, they could also have allergies that could cause the biting.
Read on to find out more about cat behavior and how to respond to it.
Cats That Kick Themselves
The kitty kick is referred to in pet owner circles as the “bunny kick.” It isn’t a hard kick and causes no harm although it can look odd.
The bunny kick happens in a couple of different scenarios. The most common situation is the cat will wrap itself around your arm or leg and then start kicking with its back legs. This is an indication your feline wants to play.
Playing in this way is equivalent to wrestling. It generally doesn’t amount to any injury to you but could get out of hand so you will need to address it with rules.
Another situation when this happens is when your cat is playing with their tail or with a toy. This is just another form of play so it’s nothing to worry about.
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Cats can use this move as a part of their defense. Cats will turn on their backs to defend themselves by preparing for the kick. They catch their opponent with their front paws and kick the powerfully in the belly to prompt their adversary to run.
Your cat can do this to you if they aren’t interested in interacting with you. Typically, this is preceded by growling or hissing so be forewarned.
Cats and kittens will also use this move to attack prey. Felines don’t like a long fight and tend to get the killing done quickly after they are done teasing their prey.
The Practicality of Bunny Kicking
Everything cats do, even in play, comes from a natural inclination to survive. They practice fighting beginning as a kitten. Play is centered around defending itself and catching prey for food. These instincts are in all cats, even those that are completely domesticated.
You must always look at the cat’s behavior from the perspective of having a bit of wildness left in them.
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Kicking Themselves in the Face
Sometimes, a cat will kick itself in the face. This is a reflex reaction that tends to happen when they are laying on their side and bent a certain way. Suddenly, they will kick their faces seemingly uncontrollably.
Then, the cat will bite their legs. This happens so the cat can stop their nerves from inducing the kicking.
This behavior looks strange but it is similar to a person pinching themselves to stop their leg from suddenly twitching for no reason.
Other Reasons for Biting the Back Legs
Biting their back legs can be a way to garner their owner’s attention. Cats are highly social and will go to extremes sometimes to get attention from their humans. That includes biting their tail, grabbing their tail, or biting their back legs.
Their methods work because their human family will then stop to gaze at them, speak to them, pet, and play with them after a cat exhibits this behavior.
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Allergies Can Cause It
Some of this behavior could be due to allergies. Cats and dogs aren’t beyond being allergic to things like pollen, dust, fleas, and food. They can also have allergies by coming in contact with something like perfume or after-shave.
Each of these allergies has different symptoms. Dust, pollen, and contact allergies can have sneezing, itching, or some minor skin irritation where contact is made. Fleas cause primarily skin irritation and your cat will scratch different areas if infected.
Food allergies came come about because of preservatives put in pet food. Those symptoms have a little more of a wider range than scratching and can also include breathing issues, digestive issues, and bowel problems.
Food allergies aren’t limited to products with certain meats but can also be in pet foods with vegetables and grains so watch your cat when you switch to a new food.
Cats can be compulsive in licking and biting but generally don’t cause any skin irritations with it.
Pet owners that find crusty bumps, red skin patches, or areas where fur is missing should take their cat to the vet for allergies. A veterinarian can offer recommendations to reduce allergies and provide medications as well.
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When It Gets Too Rough?
Cats generally don’t kick or bite hard when they’re playing with you, another cat, or even a dog. They understand that it’s play and different from defensive fighting. Playtime for a cat is more about learning strategy than causing injury.
However, sometimes playtime can get uncontrollable and become too rough. That is when you must end it whether it’s with you or another animal. Kittens should be taught how to play properly to avoid problems later as they turn into adults.
Inform the cat immediately of its inappropriate behavior when it bites or kicks too hard. Say “ow” loudly if it hurts you and then immediately take your forefinger and tap their nose saying “no” a few times. Generally, the cat will stop the attack at “ow” so your finger shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
Tap your finger in the air near your cat if the cat is super aggressive to avoid further injury. Your tone of voice and body movement is what communicates the message to your cat.
Then, walk away. Avoid your cat for a while until it comes over to you. Usually, they will apologize by rubbing up against your legs or rubbing their head up against your hand. Respond by petting the cat and maybe giving him a treat.
Aggressive behavior occurring with another animal needs a different approach as the other animal may suddenly get defensive and fight back. Separate the animals immediately. People should use a device like a broom to do this to avoid injury.
Most animals will calm down and walk away once separated.
Put the cat in a kennel for a while if necessary. That should teach your cat this behavior is unacceptable and give your cat some security that it is safe.
Sometimes, cats just want to be left alone. You, other family members, and other animals in the house need to know when those times are.
Cats have different personalities and develop different routines for themselves. They have their set times for eating, grooming, going outside, and playtime and may not like it when others interrupt their routine. An older cat is older or one that recovering from an illness would especially want more alone time.
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A cat’s behavior only looks odd to humans because it isn’t our behavior. However, it makes sense to cats. Pet owners should spend some time observing their cats to know when behavior like kicking their legs or biting is normal and when it strays from the way the cat typically acts.
Take your cat to a vet if behavior starts to veer too much from how it normally acts. A change in their diet or medication can cause strange behavior and that can be easily rectified.