Cats would win gold in an Olympic sport dedicated to stretching, as they stretch their muscles all the time, perhaps for the same reasons that people do. What are the key reasons? Stretching feels wonderful and improves blood flow, but why do cats vibrate when they stretch?
Cats vibrate when stretching because it helps with blood flow. They sleep between 12 and 16 hours each day, roughly twice as much as humans. During catnaps, the brain paralyzes the muscles, preventing the cat from sleepwalking off the sofa or wherever it’s resting.
Read on for more fascinating information about cats and why they stretch and why they vibrate when stretching. .
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Vibrating While Stretching Is Due to the Myotatic Reflex
Stretching occurs as soon as the cat wakes up. Whether they’ve been sitting quietly or napping, cats stretch to get their muscles functioning again after a time of inactivity. Stretching helps regulate muscle tactility and length.
Cats vibrate when stretching due to something called the myotatic reflex. A collection of nerves is triggered when a major muscle is stretched. The purpose of these nerves is to keep that muscle from overstretching, which would be harmful to it.
They accomplish this by causing the muscles to contract. As a result, muscle groups work in opposition to one another, causing vibrations due to changes in how hard each is working.
With each stretch, the muscles wash out the toxins and waste by-products that have accumulated during periods of inactivity. Carbon dioxide and lactic acid, for example, can build up in a cat’s body, but stretching can help remove the toxins by increasing blood and lymph circulation.
Stretching also prepares the muscles for exercise. If a mouse scurries by — or, let’s be honest, if we’re talking about house cats, a spider — the cat will be ready to pounce if its muscles have previously been stretched. It’s beneficial for them to be prepared to go at any time.
Benefits of Stretching for Cats
Remember that just because cats have nine lives does not mean they are immune to injuries or arthritis; it simply means they hide their pain efficiently. A stretching practice is an excellent way to prevent injury as well as to relieve discomfort that is already present but that you may not be aware of!
Cats have long recognized the various benefits of stretching, whether it’s flexing early in the morning or yawning at night. Cats, like us, stretch to keep themselves flexible, relaxed, and happy.
The reason for this is that a good stretching routine can help you avoid injury by:
- Alleviating muscle tightness
- Enhancing blood and nutrient circulation to an area while removing waste products
- Increasing the range of motion of joints
- Improving the musculoskeletal system’s overall functional performance and mechanical efficiency
As hunters, our feline companions must be prepared for surprising bursts of movement at any time. After long periods of prey-stalking, their muscles must be warmed up and ready to act to go in for the kill.
Although cats stretch fairly regularly, these stretches are called active stretches. Active stretches are cat-controlled, non-specific stretches. Passive stretches, on the other hand, are targeted and assisted, and are much more effective than active stretches. Also, older cats may find it difficult to participate in stretches that might benefit them.
As a result, a daily assisted stretching routine for cats is just as necessary as it is for dogs and people! Stretches are calming and delightful when done correctly, and doing them with your cat on a daily basis will help to build your bond.
Types of Stretches That My Cat Will Like
There are a few general stretches you can perform to help out your whiskered friend on a daily basis to keep him or her feeling great and operating at peak performance! These include the following:
- The Kitty Soft-Paws (or the forelimb protraction stretch). This stretch should be done while your cat is seated or lying on his side. Cup your hand behind his elbow and gradually extend the limb forward until you feel resistance.
- The Prepare-To-Pummel (or the hindlimb protraction stretch). Wait until your cat is completely flat on his back. Gently grab your cat’s hindlimb at the hock (i.e., ankle joint). Extend his limb forwards and use your other hand in front of his stifle (knee) until you feel resistance.
- The Meow-Walk (or the hindlimb retraction stretch). Wait until your cat is completely flat on his back. Gently grab your kitten’s hindlimb at the hock (i.e. ankle joint) and gently extend it back until you feel resistance.
- The Cool Cat (or the forelimb retraction stretch). Wait until your cat is seated or lying on his side before doing anything. Gently stretch the limb backward with your hand in front of his elbow and shoulder until you feel resistance.
- The Down-With-Dog (or the spinal and hamstrings stretch). Most cats enjoy having the base of their tail stroked and will respond by standing on their tiptoes behind them and bowing in front. This extends the spine while simultaneously gently stretching the hamstrings.
When Else Do Cats Vibrate?
Cats also vibrate when purring, which is a form of communication they have with other animals and humans. What does it mean when your cat purrs? Mostly, it means your cat is content or happy, which is why the animal purrs during a wonderful massage or stretch.
Other Interesting Cat Behaviors
Our furry feline friends don’t necessarily have to be a mystery, however hard they try to be. Besides vibrating while stretching, cats exhibit other interesting behaviors as well. The following are some interesting facts about cat behavior that will help you get to know your cat better:
- Cats can sleep 12-16 hours per day and spend 1/3 of their awake hours grooming themselves.
- Grooming stimulates blood flow to the skin, helps regulate body temperature, and helps your cat relax. Never interrupt a cat during grooming.
- Cats can also dream. This is why they twitch when sleeping.
- Cats mark their territory by rubbing their faces and bodies on you, leaving their scent on you.
- If your cat comes up to you with a straight, nearly vibrating tail, it suggests he or she is overjoyed to meet you.
- When your cat reveals their tummy, it’s a gesture of trust and relaxation. However, it’s not usually an invitation for a belly rub. Cats don’t enjoy those in the same way some dogs do.
- When your cat bops their head with yours, this means “I love you.”
- Cats are known for showing appreciation by leaving gifts such as dead mice or birds by your bedside or feet. This is just their way of saying thank you.
- Some cats prefer drinking water straight from an open faucet. This behavior probably comes from their wildcat ancestors.
- Cats love to sleep on our laptops, especially when we are working! Why is that when there are so many other nice and comfortable places to sleep? It could be that the cat likes the toasty and warm laptop or just wants your attention.
A cat’s way of communication is different from ours or even other animals. All we can do is give them space, a peaceful and stimulating environment, and healthy food.
A calm and happy cat WILL nap a lot, and stretching (and vibrating during that stretching) is part of the entire deal. Just make sure you are ready to play with your cat after the satisfying nap and stretch!
- Live Science: Why Do Cats Stretch So Much?
- Science Direct: Myotatic Reflex – an overview
- Animal Path: Why Do Cats Vibrate?
- Pets in Balance: The Secret to Nine Lives – Cats and Stretching
- Viagen Pets & Equine: Fun Cat Facts
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.