Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Cats Stretch When They See You? 5 Common Reasons

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat stretching on the floor

Why Do Cats Stretch When They See You? 5 Common Reasons

Picture this. Walking in your front door after a long, grueling day at work. The house is quiet, but then you hear it in the distance: a sweet chirrup that announces your cat’s presence. They come around the corner, stretching toward you and meowing their approval of your return. It’s a truly heartwarming sight, but why does your cat stretch whenever they see you?
Read on to find five common reasons behind your cat’s stretching behaviors.

divider 2 cats

The 5 Common Reasons Cats Stretch When They See You

1. They’re Trying to Communicate With You

Perhaps the most likely reason your cat is stretching when they see you is because they’re trying to communicate with you. This subtle form of communication allows your cat to announce their presence while also greeting you when you come home. It tells you that they’re ready to interact with you and receive your attention.

Your cat may also stretch when they see you as a way of inviting you to play with them, so grab their favorite feather wand and get to it!

Fluffy domestic cat stretching on the sofa
Image Credit: Magdanatka, Shutterstock

2. They Need More Mobility

It’s certainly no secret that cats enjoy their naps; they spend up to 16 hours of their day asleep, after all. When you get home from work or running errands, you’re probably interrupting one of your cat’s many daily naps. When they come to welcome you home in their still sleepy stupor, they’ll need to recover some muscle flexibility from their extended snoozefest. Stretching allows them to get their blood circulating again and regain control of their bodies.


3. They’re Preparing to Play

You already know that cats sometimes stretch to prepare their bodies for mobility, but they may be doing so as a way to prepare themselves for play. Your cat may interpret your presence as an opportunity for play, so when they’re stretching when they see you, it’s their way of priming their body and getting their muscles ready for the play that’s about to take place.


4. They Feel Secure Around You

When your cat does a really big stretch, they let their guard down, making them unprepared for incoming attacks and unable to flee on a dime if a predator were to show up. So when your kitty stretches out in front of you to show, they’re showing you just how secure and comfortable they are in your presence.


5. They’re Marking Their Territory

Don’t let the domestic cat’s small size fool you; they’re very territorial beings. Your cat has many ways of marking their territory. You’re probably familiar with some of the most common territorial behaviors, such as head bunting, kneading, and face rubbing, but stretching is another technique cats employ to mark objects (and people) as their property. They have scent glands in their paws, so when they stretch, they’re leaving their scent behind and establishing their territory.

cat stretching
Image Credit: AntonMaltsev, Shutterstock

divider 2 cats

Why Are Cats So Flexible?

If you’ve ever watched your cat stretch, you’ve probably seen them contort themselves in bizarre, seemingly impossible ways. Cats sometimes twist their bodies in directions that shouldn’t be possible, given the fact that they have spines. How can their backs twist into pretzel-esque shapes? It is actually the design of their spines (well, their vertebrae, more precisely) that gives them this flexibility.

A cat’s vertebrae are connected flexibly with elastic cushioning disks between each. This limber spine is what allows them to perform the graceful acrobatic feats they’re so well-known for.

Additionally, their shoulder blades attach to the rest of their body by muscles and not bone, allowing for unparalleled freedom to move.

You are free to use this image but we do require you to link back to Catster.com for credit

divider 1 paws

Final Thoughts

Cats engage in many enigmatic behaviors, including stretching. Stretching toward you is most often a sign of openness to play, security in your presence, and a way to greet you when you arrive home after work. However, some cats may simply be stretching in your direction as they wake up from a nap and try to get their blood flowing again, or it could be your pet’s way of marking their territory.


Featured Image Credit: svetkor, Shutterstock

PangoVet Image Speak With A Vet Online

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart

Pangolia

© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.