Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by David from Sacramento. David Wonders, “Do all animals stretch when they wake up? Other than feeling good, why do we do it? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, David!
Have you ever seen a goldfish touch its tailfin? How about a lizard raise both its arms in the air? Does your dog stretch his neck to the left and right? Most of those sights might seem pretty silly, but anyone with a pet will tell you their animals stretch. Cat owners might even say their pets seem to stretch more than other animals!
Why do cats stretch so much? There are plenty of reasons. For one thing, stretching is one of the many ways cats communicate. Since cats can’t talk to us, they use body language to communicate instead. Have you ever seen a cat arch her back? That means she’s feeling scared. Has a cat ever rubbed his head against you? He was showing affection! When cats stretch, they’re saying they feel comfortable and relaxed. If a cat stretches in front of you, it means you make him feel content!
Have you ever heard of a “catnap”? It’s what we call a short nap. The "cat" in catnap comes from the fact that cats take lots of short naps throughout the day instead of sleeping for several hours straight like people. The average cat sleeps between 12 and 16 hours a day total! Have you ever seen a cat sleepwalk? Luckily, their brains stop that from happening. While cats sleep, their brain paralyzes most of their muscles to keep them from acting out their dreams. Their paws and legs might still shake or twitch, but they won’t pounce in their sleep!
When cats wake up, they need to get their muscles moving again. After being still for several minutes, their blood pressure drops and their muscles become stiff. That’s where stretching comes in! When cats stretch, they improve blood flow and get their muscles ready to move. Stretching keeps cats ready to pounce on the next mouse or treat that comes their way! Since cats take so many short naps throughout the day and stretch after each nap, they spend a lot of time stretching!
Most other animals stretch, too. Dogs are so good at stretching that people name some yoga poses after them! A traveler in Antarctica would witness penguins stretching their fins out to each side. Have you ever dreamed of going on a safari? You might be lucky enough to see an elephant or zebra stretching out their legs. Just pay a visit to the local park to watch rabbits stretch before they hop!
Are you feeling a little drowsy? Time to wake up! Stand up and try to touch your toes. Now, raise both your hands in the air as high as you can. Okay, lean over to the right side. Now the left. Are you more awake now? Doesn’t a quick stretch feel great? Now you’re ready to pounce on the rest of your day!