Why Do Cats Sometimes Stand up on Two Legs?


Bipedalism means that something is moving about on land by using their two rear limbs. Sometimes, it is obligate in nature, meaning that it is the species’s normal method of locomotion. Other times, it is facultative in nature, meaning that the species can move about on land using their two rear limbs but tends to use some other method of locomotion. Besides these, there are also some species that can stand up on their two rear limbs for various purposes, though they won’t walk about in said manner. So, why do cats like to stand on their two back legs?

How Did Bipedalism Come Into Existence?

Chances are good that humans are the first species that comes to mind for most people when they think of bipeds. However, it is important to note that bipedal locomotion has been exhibited by a fair number of species. To name some examples, every single bird is a biped, which makes sense because they are descended from the just as bipedal theropod dinosaurs. Other examples include kangaroos, certain kinds of rodents, and certain kinds of lizards. As such, it seems safe to say that bipedalism has proven to be beneficial on more than one occasion. In our case, bipedalism seems to be one of the most notable characteristics that make us who we are. Indeed, those who are curious should know that the evolution of bipedalism seems to have preceded the evolution of big brains because scientists have managed fossils of small-brained apes that nonetheless walked upright. It isn’t clear why our ancestors became bipedal, but a number of plausible lines of speculation have been offered up. For example, walking upright is a more efficient method of land-bound locomotion. Similarly, walking upright freed up the two front limbs for other uses, which is supported by evidence that modern chimpanzees will walk upright when carrying valuable foods. Whatever the case, bipedalism is a critical component of the human experience, with the result that we find it very interesting when we see other species engaged in similar behaviors.

Why Do Cats Sometimes Stand Up on Two Legs?

For instance, it isn’t uncommon for cats to stand up on their two hind legs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single reason for why this happens. Instead, there are a number of potential explanations, meaning that interested individuals will need to make their own judgments based on the context:


For starters, cats will sometimes stand up on their two hind legs for the purpose of intimidation. This can sound strange because this doesn’t make them look very intimidating from our perspective. However, adult humans are much, much bigger animals than domesticated cats, meaning that we perceive such actions in a much different manner than most of the probable targets of such actions. As for why cats would do this kind of thing, well, suffice to say that it is a kind of bluff. Essentially, fighting is an extremely dangerous prospect for a cat. After all, if they get driven off by a rival cat, they will suffer by being deprived of important resources. Furthermore, there is a chance that the cat will be injured in the process, which is very problematic because an injured cat is also a cat that will have a much harder time finding food. As such, there is a real chance of an injured cat entering into a downwards spiral because the weaker that they get from hunger, the harder it will become for them to pull out of it. Similarly, losing a fight to a predator is even worse. In those fights, there is a very real chance that the cat will wind up being killed in the event of a loss. Moreover, there is an increased chance of injury because chances are good that anything interested in targeting a cat will also be a bigger physical threat than a cat, thus making the match-up that much more lop-sided. Of course, it is important to remember that the reverse is true as well. The cat is facing serious risks if they choose to fight. However, their opponent is facing serious risks as well. As such, when a cat stands up on their two hind legs, they are trying to make themselves look bigger. Something that translates into a bigger and thus more physically capable opponent. By doing so, the cat is hoping to make the other side back down, which in turn, implies that it feels the need to make the other side back down.

Trying to Get Attention

It is interesting to note that it is also possible for cats to stand up on their two hind legs for the exact opposite reasons. Sometimes, they are just looking for the cat owner’s attention, which is possible because a lot of cats can be quite physically affectionate. This is particularly likely to be the case if the cat is also showing other signs of affection such as bunting. Having said that, cats can also be trying to get the cat owner’s attention for much more straightforward reasons. For example, they might just be reaching out for some kind of treat in the cat owner’s hand. Similarly, they might just be reaching out for some kind of treat situated somewhere else that they can sense but can’t reach. In any case, if interested individuals want to, they can use this kind of behavior to train their cat to stand on their two hind legs through positive reinforcement. Something that can make for a rather impressive trick.

Might Be an Adaptation

There is a wide range of cats out there with a wide range of conditions. Some of these can cause cats to become more interested in standing up on their two hind legs than most of their counterparts. To name a particularly well-known example, munchkin cats are famous for engaging in this kind of behavior, which makes sense because their stubby legs have provided them with such a low center of gravity. Likewise, there are conditions that can leave cats either without front legs or without properly formed front legs. In those cases, it is possible that those cats will learn to move about using their two hind legs because that happens to be more comfortable as well as more convenient for them. Simply put, our feline companions are very adaptable animals, meaning that they can compensate for their issues with a considerable measure of ingenuity.

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