Some cats do a strange little bunny kick at certain things, including their own toys and even their owners.

This is an undeniably sweet and adorable behavior, but what exactly is behind it?

There are some pretty fascinating explanations for why so many cats do this.

What Triggers Bunny Kicks in Cats?

There are a number of things that can cause a cat to start bunny kicking. You might find that your kitty begins doing this when you start petting it in just the right spot. This is basically the equivalent of a dog’s log kicking when its belly gets scratched.

Sometimes cats start to bunny kick when they get excited. This could be due to seeing their owner after they’ve been gone all day, or encountering another cat outside. There is no telling what might set your kitty off.

It’s a form of Play

When a cat is doing its little bunny kicks, it is most likely just exhibiting play type behavior. This is very common with kittens and younger cats. 

There are all sorts of seemingly strange things these animals do when they are feeling particularly playful.

It is not a good idea to use your hand a lot when playing with your cat, as they might start nipping or clawing at it. If you want to discourage these bad behaviors in your kitty, you will certainly want to keep this in mind.

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Bunny Kicking when Fighting

Cats sometimes bunny kick other cats when they are fighting them. This sometimes happens with male cats that are competing for a female that is in heat. If you have multiple unneutered male cats and at least one un-spayed female, you will need to keep a look out for this.

The last thing you want is any of your cats fighting with each other in a serious way. It is only a matter of time before one or both cats get seriously injured. Pay close attention to the body language of your cat. If their ears are pinned back and their overall posture is stiff, they are most likely in defense mode.

Buying the Right Toys for Your Kitty

If you have a cat that loves to bunny kick, it is important that you get the right toys for them. There are definitely certain toys that are better than others for kicking. Look for toys on a stick, as most cats absolutely adore them.

It is very important that your cat has a variety of fun toys to play with, because if not they will likely start acting out. This could manifest in a number of ways, such as fighting with other pets or just vocalizing very loudly over and over. The last thing you want is a bored or under-stimulated kitty on your hands.

You should also try giving your cat a cardboard box to play in. This will provide your kitty with plenty of positive playtime and stimulation. Pretty much all cats love to play in these boxes, even if they are barely able to fit inside of them.

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Defensive Mode

If your cat rolls onto its back and starts bunny kicking, it might be because they feel threatened. This could be their way of saying “hey, I am not a threat” to whatever is intimidating them. While most people think that animals either go to fight or flight when they feel threatened, there is a third response.

A cat that is in defensive mode might just stand very still with an extremely stiff posture. This is fairly common in multi-pet households, especially with cats and dogs living together. If you have a very large dog, your cat might feel threatened by them at first. The same thing can happen with large alpha cats and smaller more submissive ones.

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Avoid Aggressive Play with your Cat

While bunny kicking is not necessarily something you should discourage with your cat, you shouldn’t engage in aggressive play. If your cat starts to bite you or get rough, it is imperative that you make it clear that their behavior is not acceptable. 

Take your hand away from your cat and slowly bring it back. If your cat begins playing with you more gently, you’ll want to give it some verbal praise. This is by far the best means of training your cat not to be too rough when playing.

Cats that are not properly socialized at a young age can have problems with not knowing where the boundaries are when playing. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that cats spend the first few weeks of their life with their mother and litter mates. They learn important things about what is and what is not acceptable behavior.

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A Matter of Imitation

While a cat’s bunny kicking is usually a result of pure instinct, it can come from observing other pets in the house. If you have another cat or a dog that bunny kicks, they might start doing it too. This is fairly common in households that have multiple cats. Imitation isn’t always a good thing, but in this case it’s pretty harmless.


  • Bunny kicking is usually a harmless behavior in cats that most likely comes out of sheer instinct.
  • It is possible that your cat has started bunny kicking because it is imitating another cat or pet in the household.
  • Cats often bunny kick when their owner is playing with them.
  • You will want to discourage your cat from playing with your fingers or hands at all.
  • Make sure that you provide your kitty with lots of fun toys to play with, including fishing pole toys.
  • You might notice your cat start to bunny kick when you begin scratching or petting it in just the right spot.
  • Sometimes bunny kicking in cats can be a sign of aggression or defensive behavior.
  • If your cat’s posture is stiff and their tail is standing straight up, they likely feel threatened by something.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".