Why Do Cats Kick Themselves?

Have you ever seen your cat suddenly kick their back legs out, with no apparent reason?

It’s an odd thing for cats to do, and it can be quite startling. So why do cats kick themselves?

This peculiar behaviour is actually quite normal among cats. There are a few potential explanations – let’s take a look at what they could be.

It’s possible that cats are attempting to scratch an itch or remove something that is irritating them. Cats have sensitive skin and can easily become irritated by things like fleas or other parasites, which they may try to scratch away by kicking their back legs out.

Cats may also be trying to stretch their muscles or release tension in their body – this could be due to anxiety or simply because they enjoy stretching after a nap. Another explanation is that cats may be marking their territory when they kick themselves.

When cats kick out their back legs, they exchange pheromones into the atmosphere, which can serve as a warning to other animals nearby. Now we know why cats are kicking themselves, how can we avoid this behaviour if it becomes excessive?

The best way is to ensure your cat has plenty of toys and activities so they aren’t bored or restless. Additionally, make sure your cat is up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations and parasite prevention products – this will help keep them irritant-free.

Let’s get started.

Reasons Why Cats Kick Themselves

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This behavior, known as “bunny-kicking,” is surprisingly common among cats.

So why do cats kick themselves? The answer is multifaceted.

Cats can kick themselves for a variety of reasons, such as to remove debris from their coat, mark their territory, or even when they’re feeling anxious. For example, cats may use their hind legs to remove loose fur or dirt that has become lodged in their coat while grooming.

This helps them avoid digestive problems such as hairballs. Cats may also kick bunny-kicking when they detect a threat or something quickly approaching them, as a form of self-defense or play.

If your cat is exhibiting abnormal behavior or signs of distress, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian in order to rule out any medical conditions and provide appropriate treatment.

Grooming and Fur Removal

Cats are truly remarkable creatures, and their unique bunny-kicking behavior is just one of the many things that make them so special.

But why do cats kick themselves? There are several reasons for this behavior, one of which is grooming and fur removal.

When cats groom themselves with their rough tongues, they can pull out loose fur, which can be irritating to their skin. To get rid of this excess fur and keep their coats clean and healthy, cats use their hind legs to kick themselves.

Cats may also kick themselves as a way to scratch an itch or relieve irritation caused by fleas or other pests. With their sharp claws, cats can reach hard-to-reach areas on their backs by kicking themselves with their hind legs.

This is a great way for cats to keep those pesky bugs away without having to rely on humans for help. Finally, cats may also engage in playful kicking habits as a form of play or exercise.

Kittens often kick around toys or furniture during playtime as a way to burn calories and build muscle strength. Adult cats may also participate in this type of behavior from time to time.

Self-Defense and Play

Cats are renowned for their playful nature and self-defense mechanisms, including the fascinating bunny-kicking behavior.

This behavior is often used for grooming, play, and self-defense. When cats are playing with toys, they may use their back legs to kick and attack their prey.

They may also use this technique to repel threats or attackers by kicking their hind legs. In addition to self-defense and play, cats may also kick each other in the face as a sign of dominance or aggression.

This behavior usually occurs during social play or when cats are competing for resources such as food or attention. While this behavior may appear aggressive, it’s actually a normal part of feline social behaviour.

However, if your cat is excessively attacking itself, it could be a sign of an underlying issue such as allergies or anxiety. In these cases, it’s important to seek advice from your veterinarian to determine the root cause and provide appropriate therapy.

While this behavior is often harmless, excessive self-attacking behavior may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Excessive or Compulsive Kicking, Biting, or Scratching

Excessive or compulsive kicking, biting, or scratching in cats can be a sign of something more serious.

Cats may engage in such behaviours as a way to cope with environmental stressors, such as changes in routine or family rivalry. Alternatively, medical issues like skin allergies or infections can cause cats to feel itchy and lead them to self-groom excessively.

In some cases, compulsive behaviour can also be indicative of neurological disorders like feline hyperesthesia syndrome or obsessive-compulsive disorder. If your cat is displaying any of these signs of excessive or compulsive behaviour, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian right away.

Your vet will be able to identify any underlying medical issues and make recommendations for appropriate treatment. Additionally, creating a calm and comfortable environment for your cat can help reduce their stress and prevent excessive grooming or scratching behaviours.

Providing ample playtime, toys, and scratching posts can also help keep your cat’s behaviour in check.

Skin Irritations and Allergies

Skin irritations and allergies can be a serious issue for cats, causing them to itch and scratch excessively.

This can lead to overgrooming, hair loss, and even the formation of bald spots. In some cases, secondary infections can occur due to excessive scratching or biting.

If your cat is exhibiting signs of excessive grooming or kicking, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Common causes of cat allergies include food, fleas, pollen, dust mites, and other environmental factors.

Typical symptoms include itchy skin, excessive scratching or grooming, sneezing, and watery eyes. Your vet may suggest a special diet or medications in order to help control your cat’s allergies.

In addition to medical care for skin irritations and allergies in cats, it’s also essential to provide them with an enriched environment that includes plenty of toys, playtime opportunities, and scratching posts.

Anxiety, Stress, and Other Emotional Issues

Cats are known to be independent and self-sufficient, but they can also suffer from emotional issues such as anxiety and stress.

If left untreated, these conditions can lead to a range of behavioral changes including aggression, excessive grooming, and self-directed habits like kicking and biting themselves. It is essential for cat owners to be aware of the signs of anxiety in their pets so they can take the necessary steps to address the problem.

Environmental changes, social stressors, and medical conditions are all potential causes. To help your cat cope with these issues, create a safe and comfortable living space with plenty of toys and playtime activities.

Additionally, establish a consistent routine that your cat can rely on for stability. If needed, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical disorders that may be contributing to your cat’s behaviour.

In some cases, it might be beneficial to use medication or behavior modification techniques to reduce their anxiety and stress levels.

Signs of a Medical or Behavioral Problem in Cats

Cats are known for their playful and curious behavior, but excessive kicking or self-attacking could be a sign of a medical or behavioral disorder.

If your cat is exhibiting this type of behavior, it is important to keep an eye out for other potential signs such as weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, over grooming, and changes in litter box habits. To rule out any potential health issues and discuss potential behavioral interventions, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.

In addition to physical fitness, cats can also suffer from emotional disorders which can lead them to participate in unhealthy habits such as biting and kicking themselves. If you suspect that your cat is struggling with anxiety or stress levels, it’s important to provide them with a safe and comfortable living space with plenty of toys and regular playtime activities.

Establishing a regular routine may also help reduce their anxiety levels. For more serious cases, medication or behavior change techniques may be necessary.

Treatment Options for Medical or Behavioral Problems

If your cat is excessively kicking themselves, it could be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral disorder.

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help cats overcome these issues and return to their happy, healthy selves. For medical-related issues such as allergies, viruses, or parasites, treatment usually involves addressing the root cause.

This may include medications, dietary changes, or environmental modifications to reduce exposure to allergens or irritants. When it comes to behavioral problems related to kicking behavior, such as anxiety or stress-related disorders, behavior modification techniques like desensitization and counterconditioning can be effective.

These involve gradually exposing the cat to the source of its fear while providing positive reinforcement to create new positive associations. Other treatments for compulsive kicking may include pheromone therapy and medications to address underlying anxiety or compulsive behavior disorders.

In some cases, referral to a veterinary behaviorist may be necessary for more specialized treatment and management of behavioral issues.

Also Read: Why Does My Cat Grab or Hold My Hand? – 21Cats.org


Why do cats kick themselves? It could be for a variety of reasons – to groom, mark their territory, scratch an itch, or even out of anxiety.

If you notice your cat exhibiting abnormal behavior or signs of distress, it’s best to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any medical conditions and provide appropriate therapy.

Creating a calm and secure environment can help reduce your cat’s anxiety and prevent unnecessary grooming or scratching behaviors. Offering plenty of playtime, toys, and scratching posts is also beneficial in keeping your cat’s behavior in check.

This may include medications, dietary changes, environmental improvements to minimize allergens or irritants, pheromone therapy, desensitization and counterconditioning strategies that involve positive reinforcement for new positive results.