Most cats have a “rake” reflex, i.e., if they have a grip on something, they’ll grab it with their forepaws and kick/scratch it quickly and repeatedly with their powerful hind legs. This is devastating to their prey and is one of their primary means of killing something they’ve caught (the other being to break its neck in their jaws).
Dasher, our big ol’ goofball of a redneck rescue cat, has a particularly strong raking reflex on a hair trigger. He usually takes this out on toys, but he’ll rake anything that gets near his belly … pillows, treats, the fleshy underside of your arm, you name it.
This can lead to trouble when he’s trying to groom his belly or back legs. All he has to do is get into the wrong position and Whap! he’s kicked himself in the head. When this happens, he has a tendency to stop and look around in bafflement, trying to figure out what hit him, then attempt to groom again. Whap! He then identifies the culprit as one of his back feet and attempts to bite the offender in frustration — which of course sets off the rake reflex again.
The net result of all this is that Dasher will sometimes sit for minutes at a time repeatedly kicking himself in the face as he attempts to bite his own feet off.
Man, there are so many other people I wish would do that…