Cats walking like humans

Standoff sumo-style

Cats walking like humans are very rare. The image I have created of two cats standing tall like humans is exceptional but the basic method and motivation is often the same: to make oneself larger to scare the other cat off. Standing tall like this is taking a defensive and threatening measure to extreme.

Image: MikeB

The lesser version of a cat walking like a human is the arched back and bristled fur which makes a domestic cat look larger in a standoff with an intruding cat. See below. The cat stands sideways.

Arched back defensive body posture making oneself look bigger
Arched back defensive body posture making oneself look bigger. Screesnhot.

A tiny percentage of cats take this body language posture to this extreme. It must put a lot of pressure on the hip joints and back because the cat is not designed to stand tall on their hind legs.


Looking further

Although both of the cats in the image and one you see in the video were in a sumo-style stand-off with another cat, you will also very rarely see domestic cats standing tall like this to look over an object and see into the distance if something attracts their attention.

You might have seen this inside homes as well where an anxious cat wants to know what is happening across the room or down the hallway. They raise themselves up fully on their hind legs. This allows them to be much taller which means they can look further with ease. This is unusual. There is a difference they stay on their hocks and don't extend the hind leg as we see in the image above.

Cheetah

In the wild, you don't see wild cats doing this but you do see cheetahs seeking out mounds perhaps a termite mound or some rocks to allow them to be taller and look further. The cheetah likes open spaces and therefore they will be living in a flat plane very often with tall grass. It is harder to see further and cheetahs are not great tree climbers unlike the leopard for instance.

Dwarf cats

You will also see the rare dwarf cat standing up in the meerkat position. They don't extend their hind legs but sit on their hocks so this is a halfway stage to walking like a human. The hock is the first major joint of the hind leg. Everything below the hock is the foot.

Image: Public domain.

But because the dwarf cat is so short limbed, they feel they need to stand tall to see what is going on. The motivation for the dwarf cat is their short stature and the need to compensate for it.

Three-legged cats

Sometimes you will see a cat that has three legs (the one that is missing is a forelimb) standing up tall like a dwarf cat on their hocks. 

Image: MikeB

The reason here is that because they have three legs their back muscles have become so strong that they can sit up in the meerkat position with ease in order to make themselves more noticeable to their caregiver.

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