Stretching involves the extension of the limbs, back and neck (each in isolation or in various combinations) to their full length whilst at the same time stiffening them. Cats will stretch in various ways, some of which are illustrated in the following video clips and photographs.
From a standing position the cat may extend their forelimbs forwards and draw their body towards their hindquarters which will usually remain flexed (bent).
In this example fore and hindlimbs are extended
Note the extended toes
Cats can stretch all four limbs simultaneously whilst standing by arching their back and appearing to stand on tiptoe as the legs are all extended.
What other behaviour does this resemble?
From a standing position legs can be individually lifted off the ground and extended into a full stretch or diagonally opposite legs can be extended to stretch them. This is often seen as the cat walks very slowly forwards, stretching one or more limbs on each forward step.
Cats can also stretch from a lying position. When lying in ventral recumbency, cats may stretch their front two legs out in front of them often stretching their neck before laying it down on the surface. When lying in lateral recumbency it is usual for all four limbs to be stretched simultaneously.
Stretching often occurs on first waking or on first moving after a period of resting and it may be accompanied by yawning.
The following video illustrates stretching backs and individual limbs in the horizontal plane.