Petting Your Cat’s Stomach Can be a Trigger
A cat may engage in the hind leg bunny kick if you attempt to pet her on the stomach. Your cat may be stretched out on her back and enjoying a nap on a sunny spot of the carpet. It can be hard for a cat parent to resist when you see that soft, furry tummy all exposed. For the most part, many cats don’t like to have their stomachs touched and doing so will trigger an immediate defensive reaction where they will grab your hand and then kick with the hind legs. The bunny kick, when done in a battle situation, is a defensive behavior. When threatened, a cat may roll onto her back to show her opponent that she doesn’t want to do battle but if the fight continues, she will engage all of her deadly weapons which include not just her teeth but the claws on all four feet. When you attempt to pet the exposed stomach of a cat, in many cases, you put her in that defensive position. There are some cat guardians who claim their cats don’t mind, or even seem to enjoy the tummy rub, but I would still advise you to choose safer locations for petting that don’t risk a potential hind leg kick. If your particular cat really does love a good tummy rub, just keep in mind that because one cat likes it doesn’t mean all cats do. Don’t set yourself up for an injury.
Avoiding the Hind Leg Kick
The most practical way to avoid getting bunny kicked by your cat is to never use your hands as toys. The best toy to use when you want to play with your cat is an interactive toy similar to a fishing pole design. The toy at the end of the string puts a safe distance between your hand and the cat’s teeth and claws. This way, your cat can get as enthusiastic as she wants in her biting and kicking without causing injury to you. This type of playtime also sends a clear and consistent message that skin is not to be bitten or scratched.
Even when using a small toy to play with your cat, don’t dangle it close by where the cat can grab your hand with her front paws and then use her hind legs to kick. Small toys are best for solo playtime. Put little toys such as furry mice or crinkle balls inside an open paper bag or toss them on the perch of cat tree for your cat to discover.
If your cat really enjoys hind leg kicking during playtime then consider purchasing or making a kick bag toy.