Why Do Cats Bunny Kick When You Pet Them?

Cats are fascinating creatures that have captivated humans for centuries. One of the most peculiar behaviors they exhibit is bunny kicking when being petted. This behavior has puzzled many cat lovers, but understanding why cats do it can help us build stronger relationships with our feline friends.

Have you ever noticed your cat suddenly kicking their back legs while you’re petting them? That’s the bunny kick, and it’s a natural instinct for cats. They use this move for both play and defense.

When cats play, they often engage in mock battles with each other. The bunny kick is a playful attack using their hind legs to “fight” their playmate. It’s an instinctive behavior that dates back to when cats were wild and needed it to survive.

Bunny kicking also serves as a defensive mechanism for cats. When they feel threatened or attacked, they turn around and use their hind legs to fend off the aggressor. It’s an effective way for them to defend themselves and escape danger.

So, don’t be alarmed if your furry friend starts bunny kicking during a cuddle session – it’s perfectly natural behavior. Understanding this quirk can help deepen your bond with your feline companion.

What is Bunny Kicking?

It is a common behavior that cats exhibit, especially when they are being petted. Bunny kicking is characterized by a rapid kicking motion with their hind legs, often with claws extended. This behavior is usually accompanied by purring and can be seen as a sign of affection from the cat.

Contrary to popular belief, bunny kicking is not just limited to hunting practice – it can also be a way for cats to release pent-up energy and frustration. Cats are creatures of habit and routine, and they need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. When they don’t get enough stimulation, they can become bored and frustrated. Bunny kicking while being petted is just one way for them to release some of that pent-up energy.

Interestingly enough, bunny kicking can also be a sign of affection from your feline friend. While it may seem contradictory to associate kicking with love, it’s important to remember that cats have their own unique ways of communicating with us. Bunny kicking may just be their way of showing us that they enjoy our company and attention.

Bunny kicking is named after the way rabbits kick their hind legs when they are playing or trying to escape from a predator. Cats use this same movement to play and defend themselves, especially when they feel threatened or playful. Bunny kicking is also seen in kittens when they are learning to hunt and play. They will often bunny kick their siblings during playtime to practice their hunting skills. This behavior can also be seen in adult cats during playtime with other cats or when playing with toys.

While bunny kicking can be a sign of affection from your cat, it is important to note that it can also be a defensive behavior. If your cat feels threatened or uncomfortable while being petted, they may bunny kick as a warning sign that they want you to stop.

Why Cats Bunny Kick When Petted

One such behavior is bunny kicking, where a cat kicks and scratches with their hind legs while holding an object or being petted. But why do cats bunny kick? Let’s explore the different theories behind this quirky behavior.

One possible explanation for bunny kicking is that it’s an instinctual behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. In the wild, cats use their hind legs to hunt and fight, so bunny kicking may be a way for them to practice these skills. It could also be a defensive behavior against predators or prey. So when your cat goes into full bunny kick mode, they’re not just having fun – they’re honing their survival instincts.

Another theory is that bunny kicking is a sign of affection. When a cat is happy and content, they may bunny kick as a way to show their pleasure. It could also be a way for them to release pent-up energy or frustration. So next time your cat starts bunny kicking while you pet them, it might just mean that they’re enjoying your company and feeling relaxed.

Bunny kicking could also be a form of play for cats. Cats love to play and interact with their owners, and bunny kicking may be a way for them to engage in playful behavior. It could also be a way for them to release stress or anxiety. So if your cat starts bunny kicking out of nowhere, it might mean that they’re in the mood for some playtime.

Regardless of the reason behind it, bunny kicking is a harmless and entertaining behavior that many cat owners find endearing. So the next time your furry friend starts bunny kicking, know that it’s just their way of expressing themselves and enjoying your company.

Hunting Instincts of Cats

Cats are born hunters, and their bunny kicking is a manifestation of their innate hunting instincts. This behavior is particularly useful for cats when they are hunting prey in the wild, as they can immobilize their prey with their sharp claws and powerful kicks. Even domesticated cats retain some of these instincts, which is why they engage in playful bunny kicking behaviors.

However, when you pet your cat, they may feel threatened if they are not in the mood for attention or feel vulnerable. In such cases, your cat may respond by bunny kicking to protect themselves. Bunny kicking is when your cat kicks out with its hind legs while holding onto something with its front paws. It’s a powerful move that allows them to use their hind legs as weapons.

Apart from self-defense, another reason why your cat bunny kicks when you pet them is that it’s a way for them to release pent-up energy. Cats are active animals that require physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. When they don’t get enough play or exercise, they may become restless and irritable. Bunny kicking provides an outlet for this energy, allowing your cat to release some of its pent-up frustration.

If your cat starts bunny kicking during playtime, it’s essential to understand their mood first. If they seem irritated or agitated, it’s best to give them some space and let them come to you when they’re ready. Additionally, providing your cat with plenty of opportunities for play and exercise can help reduce the frequency of this behavior.

Releasing Pent-Up Energy and Frustration

But don’t take it personally. Bunny kicking is a natural behavior in cats and serves as their way of releasing pent-up energy and frustration.

Especially among kittens and young cats, bunny kicking can be seen as a sign of their abundant energy that needs an outlet. In addition, bunny kicking can also help relieve stress and anxiety in cats. When they feel vulnerable or unsure during petting sessions, their hunting instincts kick in, and bunny kicking allows them to release their energy and regain control.

Although not all cats bunny kick while being petted, it’s essential to let them do so without interrupting or restraining them when they do. Interfering with this behavior could cause your cat to become more agitated and stressed. So sit back, relax, and let your cat release their energy through bunny kicking.

Aside from letting your cat bunny kick during petting sessions, providing them with plenty of toys and opportunities for play can also help release pent-up energy. Interactive toys like feather wands or laser pointers can be particularly effective in engaging your cat’s hunting instincts and satisfying their need for an outlet.

Showing Affection Through Bunny Kicking

Don’t fret, because this behavior is known as bunny kicking and is a common phenomenon among cats. While it may seem strange and even painful at times, bunny kicking is actually a sign of affection and happiness in cats.

Cats are known for their quirky behaviors, but bunny kicking takes the cake. This behavior is often seen when cats are being petted or playing with toys. It involves using their hind legs to kick rapidly in a rhythmic manner, much like the hopping motion of a bunny. The exact reason why cats bunny kick is not fully understood, but experts believe that it is an expression of love.

When cats are happy and content, they may show their affection in various ways, such as purring or rubbing against their owners. Bunny kicking is just another way for them to express their happiness. This behavior is particularly common in kittens as they learn to use their hind legs for play and exploration.

Bunny kicking can also be seen as a form of defense mechanism for cats. When playing with toys or being petted, cats may feel overstimulated or threatened, causing them to instinctively use their hind legs to protect themselves. This behavior can also be observed in wild cats when they need to defend themselves from predators.

As cat owners, it is essential to understand our feline friends’ behaviors to ensure their comfort and well-being. Bunny kicking is a unique behavior that adds to the charm of cats and should be embraced rather than discouraged. So the next time your cat starts bunny kicking during a petting session, know that it’s a sign of love and affection. Show your cat some extra love by giving them some space or stopping the play session if they seem overwhelmed or overstimulated.

Tips to Prevent Unwanted Kicking

Cats are known for their independent and sometimes unpredictable nature. While they can be loving and affectionate, they can also switch to a defensive mode in seconds. One of the behaviors that cat owners may find challenging to deal with is unwanted kicking. However, with some patience and understanding, you can prevent your cat from engaging in such behavior. In this blog post, we’ll be diving into five subtopics that explain tips and strategies to prevent unwanted kicking from cats.

Understanding the Natural Instincts of Your Cat

Cats are natural hunters, and kicking is a reflexive behavior they engage in while hunting prey. When petting your cat, it’s essential to understand that bunny kicking is a natural instinct that they can’t help but engage in. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach your cat slowly and gently to avoid triggering this response. Remember that your cat is not trying to hurt you; they’re just practicing their hunting skills.

Reading Your Cat’s Body Language

Cats communicate through body language, and it’s crucial to pay attention to their cues when petting them. If your cat starts twitching their tail or flattening their ears, it may be a sign that they’re getting agitated and are about to engage in kicking behavior. If this happens, stop petting them immediately and give them some space. By understanding your cat’s body language, you can prevent unwanted kicking and maintain a positive relationship with them.

Avoiding Trigger Areas

Cats have sensitive areas such as their belly or tail that can trigger the kicking response. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid touching these areas when petting your cat. Instead, focus on the areas that they enjoy being petted, such as their head or chin. This will reduce the likelihood of any unwanted kicking behavior.

Providing an Outlet for Energy

Cats need physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Providing your cat with toys and scratching posts can help release their pent-up energy and reduce the likelihood of unwanted kicking behavior. Engaging in interactive play sessions with your cat is also an excellent way to provide them with an outlet for their energy.

Building a Positive Relationship

Lastly, building a positive relationship with your cat is essential to prevent unwanted kicking behavior. Spend time playing with them, providing them with treats, and showing them affection in ways that they enjoy. By doing so, you’ll help your cat feel more comfortable around you, reducing the likelihood of any unwanted surprises.


To sum up, bunny kicking is a fascinating behavior in cats that serves various purposes. It’s a playful and defensive instinct that has been ingrained in them since they were wild animals. Bunny kicking also helps cats release their pent-up energy and frustration, making it an integral part of their daily routine.

If you’re wondering why your cat bunny kicks during playtime or cuddle sessions, it may be a sign of their affection for you. When they’re happy and content, they may express their joy through bunny kicking.

As responsible cat owners, we should understand our furry friends’ behaviors to ensure their comfort and well-being. Instead of discouraging bunny kicking, we should embrace it as part of our cats’ natural instincts.

By following the tips mentioned earlier, such as providing them with an outlet for their energy and understanding their body language, we can prevent unwanted kicking behavior while deepening our bond with our feline companions.

So the next time your cat starts bunny kicking during playtime or cuddles, know that it’s perfectly normal behavior.