Cats are the connoisseurs of comfort. They nap when they want, they groom when they want, and as we all know, they will stretch whenever they see fit, too. When you've observed your cat, have you ever wondered why it is that they stretch so often? With all those cat naps, cats certainly have reason to stretch. But there is actually much more to it than just that. Keep reading to find out why it is that cats stretch so often.
Cats are super flexible
That little eight pound ninja in your living room is a highly flexible being. We know that cats at a healthy weight can contort themselves in the most interesting positions that we humans probably never could. A cat can do a downward dog better than any canine, and all that stretching is made possible thanks to their lean body structure. Your cat might have a saggy belly, but remember there's a reason for that! It's not because of all those extra cat treats.
My friend Dr. Kathryn Primm, owner and operator of Applebrook Animal Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee offered me some valuable insight as to why it is that cats stretch so often. She says that, "Cats are lean muscular athletes. Perhaps they instinctively know that they need to stretch the muscles, but there is some research to suggest that stretching (and yoga) at least in humans, causes a release of positive brain chemicals, so the cats might be working for that feeling, kinda like a mini 'runner’s high'."
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Get that body movin'
Cue the Beastie Boys track, but for an animal that spends over half of their day asleep, they must get to stretching often to increase their body's blood flow. And, just like I mentioned above regarding the connoisseurs of comfort, stretching simply feels good. LiveScience.com explains that when humans sleep, the brain paralyzes most of the body's muscles to prevent people from having the ability to act out their dreams. Can the same be true for our feline friends? A postdoctoral researcher of anatomy at the Royal Veterinary College in London named Andrew Cuff says yes.
Did you know that on average, a cat spends roughly 14 hours per day asleep? Cuff explains that:"As you stretch, it activates all of your muscles and increases your blood pressure, which increases the amount of blood flowing to the muscles and also to the brain. This helps wake you up and make you more alert." Remember, cats are predatory beings. It doesn't matter if they know exactly where their next meal is coming from. Your cat is hardwired to rely on their feline instincts. So, all that stretching supports their superior hunting capabilities. Cats are cats and all that stretching that they do supports their ability to take off like a flash at a moment's notice. Despite the fact that your cat has a warm bed and a nice roof over their head, they are still closely linked to their wildcat ancestors in terms of their thinking. ScientificAmerican.com explains that cats have simply adapted to live alongside humans and have made necessary changes to accommodate. Cats have become more sociable with one another and humans, which often is because they are forced to coexist with one another in a household. But it's suggested that there is "no evidence that they have changed much more than that over the past few thousand years."
Who doesn't love a good cat sploot? I know I do!
Another reason why cats stretch? It works to flush out the toxins from their body. When muscles begin to be activated and stretched, it serves to flush out toxins and waste buildup. The increased circulation which comes from your cat stretching works to eliminate lactic acid and carbon dioxide buildup in their body.
The next time you catch your cat stretching, perhaps you'll view them in a new light. Our cat's body structure is truly profound and something worth marveling at. Share this interesting information on why cats stretch with another cat lover you know so they can learn something, too.