Why Do Cats Kick With Their Hind Legs?

Have you ever tried to play with your cat and found that he suddenly kicked at you with his hind legs? When cats kick at you with their hind legs, it can hurt and usually mean the end of the game.

When cats kick with their hind legs, they roll onto their backs to use all four paws. They can inflict damage on their opponent by grabbing him with their front legs and kicking at him with their powerful back legs. The goal is to end fights quickly by dealing maximum damage.

While this behavior can be surprising and frightening, the answer to why cats kick with their hind legs is quite simple.

Either your cat is exhibiting playful behavior, or it is trying to warn you to leave it alone.

What is Kicking With the Hind Legs in Cats?

Kicking with the hind legs in cats usually occurs during play.

The cat reaches for the target with both front legs, such as your arm or a toy. Then, it repeatedly kicks with its hind legs like a rabbit. That is why this behavior is sometimes called a bunny kick.

Such a kick can hurt a bit, particularly if your cat’s claws are extended. It can also be challenging to free your arm from the cat’s grasp once it has taken hold of it.

Relax as much as possible to free your arm from the cat’s grip. When you are able, pull yourself out of your cat’s grip.

Stop when you feel the grip tightening because the cat is not ready to let go of you.

If your cat won’t let go, you may need to distract it with a toy or something else it likes to play with.

Why Do Cats Kick With Their Hind Legs?

A cat kick can be either an act of aggression or a playful act.

All cat family members perform it because this kick is part of the cat’s evolutionary behavior and allows it to survive in the wild.

It is a tactical self-defense movement and a hunting maneuver.

Wild cats perform this kick to catch and overpower their prey. The hind leg kick does not always kill their prey as cats sometimes like to save prey for later.

However, the maneuver does enough damage to the prey animal to ensure that it cannot escape.

Afterward, a cat may play with its prey by twirling and kicking it with its hind legs before eating it.


When a cat needs to fend off another cat or defend itself against a predator, it rolls onto its back when attacked. This may look like the cat is submitting, but it is the opposite.

The cat can use its claws and teeth while lying on its back. In addition, the cat can grab its opponent with its front paws, having its hind legs free to kick into its opponent’s exposed belly.

This fight is usually over quickly once the cat kicks with its hind legs. This move is designed for maximum damage as cats try to avoid long fights.

Unneutered males often fight with each other over a cat in heat. The kick helps them dominate the opponent so that the victorious animal can reproduce with the female cat.

The kick is also a mechanism for increasing distance. When not in the mood, a cat can perform this movement to protect itself from your touch.

It is the cat’s way of telling you to stop what you are doing.

It may seem like an invitation to play and cuddle. But a cat rolling over on her back is not always inviting you to pet her.

Instead, in that case, it’s indicating that she feels comfortable around you. In other words, she doesn’t feel threatened.


Since most domestic cats don’t need to defend themselves from predators, kicking cats can be playful. It’s one of the first things kittens do with each other as they learn to wrestle with their littermates.

Like fighting with a predator, one cat rolls onto its back while grabbing its sibling with its front paws. Finally, the cat kicks the other cat with its hind legs.

In this scenario, cats play and explore their instincts through playful interactions with each other.

When kittens engage with each other in this way without hissing or becoming aggressive, they are simply playing.

However, a cat can also use the kick when playing with humans. Cats are good at fooling their opponents into thinking they are resting.

If you fall for it and start petting your cat’s belly, she will grab your hand as soon as she gets the chance.

Cats do the same thing with their toys. They treat the poor stuffed animal like their prey, holding onto it and not letting go until they get bored or think they have their toy under control.

How Can I Tell if My Cat is Playful Or Aggressive?

Your cat’s body language is the best way to tell if he is playful or aggressive.

If your cat’s ears are pushed back, the tail is swirling wildly, and the eyes are dilated, these are all signs that your cat is excited and stressed.

In this case, it is advisable to back off and leave your cat alone.

If your cat looks relaxed and keeps his ears in their natural position, he probably wants to play.

Try to throw your cat its favorite toy so it can kick it instead of your hand or arm.

How Can I Prevent Cats from Kicking With Their Hind Legs?

Although your cat will rarely try to hurt you with a kick, it’s understandable that you want to stop her. If she gets too rough, she may also bite or scratch you.

However, stopping your cat from kicking you with its hind legs can be challenging because it is an intuitive movement.

When cats lived wild, only the best hunters could survive. Kicking is a hunting maneuver to capture prey, so stopping isn’t easy.

Stop the Hunting Behavior

You may have encouraged your cat to hunt from a young age. This may not have been your intention, but kittens quickly adopt hunting behavior.

When you played with your cat, you may have encouraged him to chase by moving your feet back and forth under the covers or luring your cat with your finger.

Unfortunately, this only leads to chase-related play. Your cat may start attacking you for seemingly no reason because she associates your movements with these behaviors.

Try not to engage in aggressive play with your cat. Being too rough or irritating your cat during play can lead to a self-defense response that ends with a kick.

Instead, positive play will encourage better behavior. Keep your cat occupied with puzzles, obstacle courses, or other stimulating toys.

Do Not Use Toys With Catnip

If your cat is in the mood to sneak up on you, get him a stuffed animal to practice sneaking up on.

However, avoid toys with catnip, which would drive your cat a little crazy.

The classic reaction of cats to catnip is that the cat will roll around and drool. Since you want to avoid this, catnip will only encourage unwanted lousy behavior.

Even if your cat shows you its belly, very few cats like having their belly stroked.

You will probably find that a kick is often a direct response to you touching this sensitive and vulnerable area.

While petting your cat’s belly gently may be tempting, it is better to avoid this area altogether.

This is true for most cats, as you will likely receive a painful kick. This is the cat’s way of warning you to leave it alone.

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I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.
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I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.