Why Do Cats Stretch When They See You?

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If anyone hosts a competitive event for stretching, cats can win you a bag of gold. They keep stretching the muscles, and most likely, you are annoyed. Especially whenever they see you, they tend to stretch, and it could be confusing. Are they stretching for muscle relaxation or only to keep you bothered? Well! The answer is that cats tend to stretch even when you are not looking.

But if they have held a loop on stretching when seeing you, it means something to them. You may not have understood the body language of the cats. But they are conveying something consistently to you. In this article, you can explore various aspects of the cat stretching in front of you.

Why do cats stretch in the first place?

Those of you who have raised the complaint of stretchy cats would have also noticed that they have been sleeping for long hours. You may have to understand this concept of sleeping and stretching. What do humans do when they continuously sleep for hours together? The first thing in the morning is to stretch and release the locked muscles from your body.

Similarly, the cats also stretch their body muscles to feel good and increase blood flow. But cats do this not only when they wake up from sleep but also when they change from one position to another. We are sure you may have adored this when they were kittens. But they are habitual animals, and they can’t get rid of this behavior when they grow up.

Scientifically, if you see, cats sleep from 12-16 hours a day on average. It is twice as much as humans do. However, the similarity is that during sleep, the brain paralyzes most of the body parts. In one way, it is good because it avoids the cats from sleepwalking or snoozing off. But once they are awakened, they want to break the periods of inactivity that can either be sleeping or even sitting still.

It will also help the cats to pump the blood flow and increase the pressure to continue with the activity that they want to do. It primarily activates the muscles and stimulates the brain to function. Hence, they can become more alert about their surroundings and instructions.

Is it good that cats stretch?

It is not only cats, but most other animals also stretch. Dogs stretch to an extent that it looks like a yoga pose. Many travelers have witnessed that zebras, penguins, and elephants are also practiced the habit of stretching. When any animal decides that its muscles are tightening or becoming stiff, then it automatically starts stretching.

Once the cats start stretching, their muscles start moving. They flush out all the toxins and unwanted materials accumulated in the body during their inactive time. It may include carbon dioxide and lactic acid, mainly. It gets stored, and it blocks the lymph area. Thus, only increased blood flow can bring back the balance and remove the blocks.

Although there is no proper way or exercise routine that a cat follows to stretch the muscles, when a mouse or spider runs across the hall, they immediately try to pounce back, which is also stretching. Therefore, don’t assume that a cat is stretching just to make it feel comfortable.

Why does a cat stretch when he sees you?

Honestly, don’t you enjoy it when the cats do the stretching?  He will purr like an engine and put his front body forward and lean back to stretch. It is pure bliss. But there are reasons why your cats stretch in front of you.

  • Welcoming you

If your cat stretches whenever he sees you, mostly he is trying to give you a warm welcome. When you are back from the office, tour, friend’s home, after purchasing groceries – all the time, he is stretching because he was waiting for you. Now when you arrive, he would like you to know that he was waiting for you. Some cats also run between their legs after they stretch to show you as a sign to pick them up and give them comfort and warmth.  When you have practiced them at a young age, they will do it throughout life.

  • When they have hunted

Cats are, by nature, predators. You can see that they chase the birds and rats. Even if you had grown them from a young age at home, their predatory instincts do not leave them that easily. They pounce and start hunting the prey. But one thing is for sure they don’t have meat on them, but the cats believe it is a victory for them. Therefore, whenever they have hunted down their prey, they would want to stretch before you. It is a sign that you may have to understand if your cat has never done this in the past. You may have to warn them or show them that it is not allowed in the house.

  • When they want to mark territory

Your cat is no exception. When you have brought new guest pets’ homes or have adopted more cats, the old cats will feel insecure. Thus, in the presence of other pets, your old cat may stretch in front of you. It is showing off to the fellow pets that you are his master and do not like any of them to come in between. They are marking territory by stretching, and also, if they walk around their legs lately, it means they are leaving their scent glands near you so that the other cats feel intimidated.

  • Seeking attention

When you have always been busy with meetings and have never seen them for a while, they automatically want to seek attention from you. Hence once they see that you are noticing them, they will start stretching out. They make these hissy and funny sounds while they do that. You should always have some playtime with them so that they don’t feel like you have not given them enough time already. However, they do not do this with everyone; it is meant only for the master at home. Only because they are comfortable and friendly with you, do they happen to stretch out.

If you don’t want to get disturbed during the meeting or when your guests have arrived, you can distract them with cat toys. Check out Petstages Cat track, which is a fun and interactive game that can help the cat out of boredom. Also, it offers them exercises and chasing; hence they may needn’t put the effort into stretching.

While these are some of the main reasons why cats start stretching when they see you, it may seem like a puzzle. But it does not end here. Along with the stretching, they also carry a lot of puzzling behavior, which may confuse you.

In this table, you can find such behaviors from the cat being listed.  

Cat’s puzzling behavior along with stretching Reasons
Cat Walk between legs It is merely a form of greeting and attention-seeking. It can also be because your feline is hungry or thirsty. Sometimes, they might want you to play along, or in other cases, they are trying to dominate you among their fellow pets. In rare cases, it may be due to disorientation, which would have resulted in a head injury.
Cats stretching on people  It means your cat is an extrovert and is too fond of playing even with an unknown. Your pet does this as a welcoming note and expresses the sense of comfort experiences around a person, referred to as a social role. But sometimes this may be because your cat is anxious about that person and wants them to stay away.
Cat’s meow loudly ‘Meows’ is nothing but a way of communication by the cats. Still, a louder one may indicate much more than mere communication, which includes distress, annoyance, worry, attention-seeking, hunger, solitude, or defense note. It can also be a mating signal for another cat. It may also be done by older cats that suffer from dementia (an eye problem) so, you must consult your Vet.
Cats hissing sound It may indicate that your cat wants to communicate with you, so pay attention. Felines also hiss to express their emotions like fear and unhappiness or as a defensive gesture. It is also a warning sign for his enemy that if it doesn’t back off, he will attack. The extroverted felines are more likely to hiss than the introverts as the former would prefer to express and later to hide.
Cats sitting on the lap It is the sweetest means of expressing his comfort over you. They do this in expecting warmth and petting in return. It may also indicate that they are missing their mother.
Cats scratching the furniture The cat’s paws contain scent glands, called Pheromones, through which they sense smell. If they scratch furniture, they are attracted to the scent of it, or they like it and want to mark their scent over it. It is also a means by which they stimulate their pheromones.

We hope the table would have given you an idea of the logic behind the cat stretching overall. Next time when you see any of this happening at your home, you may have already figured out what your cat wants.

How does your cat stretch?

If you have closely watched your cats, then you can notice that not all time stretch is the same. They are doing something different every time. However, there is nothing weird about it; there can be many different ways of stretching.

For instance, cats use the long front stretch to ensure that it is a fundamental tactic to defend. In this scenario, they extend all the fiber muscles to the maximum potential. It also means that they were waiting for you for a long. If you see this style, your cat looks controlled and relaxed mostly.

Secondly, when they perform stretches by keeping their belly attached to the floor, they do that not once or twice but multiple times. It means they are feeling hungry and wanted to eat right away. It also means they are looking for something more comforting or have made terrible mistakes, so they are confessing.

Slowly you may recognize these stretching attitudes with your cats as well. But most people make the common mistake of understanding the difference between kneading and stretching. Even owners who have experience are not able to get the actual difference between the two.

Now you would have got an idea of the difference between kneading and stretching. Thus, you should not be confused and always observe what your cat is trying to communicate.


Keeping all the playful side of the cat aside, you must have understood how stretching plays an important role in the cat’s life. It is a positive way of calming themselves down. When they are in front of you, they stretch because they create a friendly atmosphere. The cat is just letting you know how relaxed he is when he is in front of you. When you encourage him or show signs that you love it, it is the biggest compliment to him. Thus, never get annoyed with the stretching behavior. Always appreciate his efforts to be around you.

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