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I think it is because the anion distortion is caused by the cation (which transfers its electrons) attracting the anion's electrons towards itself. This may cause the electrons to be almost shared between the atoms, like in a covalent bond.
Not exactly. In a covalent bond, the electrons are shared when the orbitals from each atom overlap. So when the anion distortion occurs, the cation's positive charge attracts the anion's electrons towards it and the orbitals overlap, which is why it is similar to a covalent bond.
The anions electrons, when it intially reacts with a cation, are pulled towards the cation -- forming a temporary dipole in the anion. The ability of a cation to pull the anion's electronas towards it refers to the polarization power while the extent to which the electrons are pulled refer to the polarizablity. This is why it has covalent characteristics because, at this point, the cation and the anion are sharing electrons -- with the cation being able to pull the electrons towards itself.
A perfect, complete, 100% ionic bond would mean that the cation has lost its valence electrons completely and the anion has gained those electrons completely. In a 100% ionic bond, there should be no electrons entering the cation's electron cloud. However, the cation having a positive charge, tends to attract some of the electrons from the negative anion toward itself, and this is easier if the cation is smaller and more positive or if the anion is larger in size. Then, the electrons would be between the two ions (still more on the anion's side), but that would be essentially somewhat like they're "sharing" electrons in a covalent bond.
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