Your cat tries to trip you while you walk. It’s enough to leave you questioning the relationship with your pet. After all, it can feel as though your cat is trying to kill you, but that isn’t the case.
A cat getting underfoot is unwelcome behavior that can put your personal safety at risk. It is one of the most obvious disadvantages of cats for seniors as a bad fall can potentially happen at any time. We’ll explain the feline thinking behind this behavior and how you should respond.
- 1 Why Do Cats Walk Between Your Legs?
- 2 Why Does My Cat Run Ahead of Me?
- 3 My Cat Cuts Me Off When I’m Walking
- 4 Why Does My Cat Swipe at Me When I Walk By?
- 5 Why is My Cat Walking in Circles Around Me?
- 6 I Accidentally Stepped on My Cat
Why Do Cats Walk Between Your Legs?
If your cat is walking between your legs, she’s trying to get your attention. Your challenge is to figure out why that’s the case by running through a list of the most likely explanations. Any changes can affect your cat’s sense of security. Ensure that your pet is still enjoying all of her usual routines.
A cat that’s hungry will often rub against your ankles and legs. She’ll make a point of doing this when you’re on the move. She may be worried that you’re planning to go out and have forgotten to feed her first. This rubbing is a polite reminder that she’s around. If she considers it necessary, then she’ll follow up with a loud meow.
Perhaps your cat wants to be affectionate. Have you missed her usual petting time? If your pet is in a loving mood, she’ll show this by rubbing against you.
Maybe your cat is feeling neglected. Following you around and rubbing against your legs while you move can be a sign of jealousy. Have you just got a second cat or new houseguest? It could be that you’ve been working long hours and haven’t been home much.
Consider whether your cat is trying to show or tell you something that is important to her. Does she only rub against you when you walk toward a particular room? Your cat may smell something in or near there that she doesn’t like. Perhaps she’s warning you against entering.
Does she walk between your legs and then head in a different direction? Follow her. She could be trying to show you something that is crucial to her. It could be that a closed door is preventing access to her litter tray, or that her favorite toy is stuck under the sofa.
Why Does My Cat Run Ahead of Me?
If your cat dashes ahead of you, then you should stop and consider what happens next. Does your cat hide and then leap out at you? If so, this suggests that your cat is playing. The same response applies to the question, “why does my cat zig-zag ahead of me.”
This behavior is prevalent in kittens and young cats. Your feet and ankles are moving targets. The hunting instincts of cats will be triggered by movement. It can happen in felines of any age.
This game could become dangerous. Cats may be graceful enough to avoid injury when falling from a height. The same cannot be said about most humans.
To make your feet less appealing, you’ll need to satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts with toys. You’re not just strengthening the bond with your cat. You’re helping her to hone, and use, her hunting instincts. The result will be a calmer, happier, and more relaxed feline.
My Cat Cuts Me Off When I’m Walking
A cat continually blocking your path may be attempting to establish dominance over you.
This is a common behavior between felines. One cat will stand in the way of another. As PetWave explains, dominance often takes the form of aggression. A cat that tries to dominate a fellow feline will hiss, growl, and swipe at them. She’ll also block paths and steal food or toys.
It’s uncommon for a cat to attempt to dominate a human, but it can happen. A cat taking food from your plate or hiding your belongings could be displaying dominant traits. If you do have a bossy cat, she needs to put in her place quickly.
Whenever your cat displays dominant behaviors, put herm in a ‘time out’ to cool off. If necessary, use deterrents such as loud noises. Just be sure not to fight fire with fire. If you match feline aggression with physicality, the situation will escalate.
Why Does My Cat Swipe at Me When I Walk By?
You need to assess your cat’s intentions. Is it a vicious swipe, claws extended, with the aim to wound? Or is she trying to touch you with her paws? These are two very different behaviors.
My Cat Swipes at Me With Her Claws
Feline aggression is usually a form of dominance. If your cat is attempting to hurt you, then she’s trying to make you fear and respect her.
A vet will need to run tests on your cat to ensure that she’s not unwell or injured. Felines often become uncharacteristically aggressive when they’re feeling sick.
Your vet may also recommend spaying or neutering your cat, if you haven’t already. This procedure drastically reduces aggressive tendencies in felines, especially male cats.
Your cat’s aggression may be due to stress. When a cat is stressed, she will be prone to acting up. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to cause stress to a feline. Your cat is particularly averse to change, so ask yourself if something has changed for her recently.
Do you have a new houseguest, partner, or pet? Your cat may be taking out her stress on you because she feels threatened or neglected. Cats need patience and reassurance in such scenarios.
Consider whether your pet’s aggression is part of a misplaced sense of playfulness. Young cats often play rough and they learn how to curb their aggression. If your cat was never socialized, you may need assistance from an animal behavioral therapist to retrain your cat.
My Cat Places Their Paw on My Leg
This is a different action, and not one borne of aggression. When a cat lays a paw upon you, she’s demonstrating affection. As your pet has scent glands in her paws, she’s also marking you.
This does not mean that your cat doesn’t also want your attention. She’s likely looking to remind you that she around and has unmet needs. She’s either too polite or nervous to get under your feet.
Cats placing a paw on your leg is akin to you gently touching a friend’s arm. Sometimes, this is an affectionate gesture. On other occasions, it’s to get their attention.
Why is My Cat Walking in Circles Around Me?
Walking in circles is a cause for greater concern than just getting underfoot. This is often a sign of a medical condition called feline vestibular disease.
As VCA Hospitals explains, this health problem that attacks your cat’s nervous system and affects her coordination. The result could be a cat wandering in circles, whether intentional or not. Other symptoms of feline vestibular disease include:
- Tilting of the head
- Irregular eye movement, including twitches
- General lack of coordination and grace in movement
If you suspect that your cat has this condition, see a vet. Your cat’s life is not endangered by vestibular disease, but it could be linked to a more severe condition.
I Accidentally Stepped on My Cat
The main danger of felines getting underfoot is the risk of stepping on your cat. Just about every pet owner has experienced this at one time or another.
If you accidentally step on your cat, take a step backward. You’ll be concerned, and you can check her for signs of injury. Your cat needs to understand that it was an accident.
If you loom over a cat straight after stepping on her, then she’ll think that she’s being attacked. That will result in fear-based self-defense action, such as clawing and biting or running away. After a moment or two, once things have calmed down a little, you can assess her for signs of harm.
To assess your cat for injury, touch each of her limbs and tail. If your cat reacts poorly to any being touched anywhere, she’ll be experiencing pain. Apologize to your cat with strokes. Felines are more forgiving than you may give them credit for. Your pet will soon be purring in your lap again.
When your cat walks into your path, you’d be forgiven for thinking that she has bad intentions. There is always a reason for cats getting underfoot, and her intentions are usually innocent. Aggressive, dominant behavior needs to be stopped. If your cat is not hostile, she wants attention.