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 an unwelcome behavior. It can be dangerous for you and your pet. It is one of the disadvantages of cats for seniors as a bad fall can take place at any time. We will explain the feline thinking behind this risky behavior, and how you should respond appropriately.
- 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, they are trying to get your attention. This may be so that they can demonstrate their affection for you.
If your pet is in a loving mood, they’ll show it by rubbing against you. What’s more likely, however, is that they want to be fed.
A cat that’s growing hungry will often rub against your ankles and legs. They’ll make a point of doing this if you’re on the move.
They’re worried that you’re planning to go out, and have forgotten to feed them first. This rubbing is a polite reminder from your pet that they’re around. If they consider it necessary, however, your cat will follow up with a loud meow.
It’s also possible that your cat is feeling neglected, though. Following you around, and rubbing against your legs while you move, can be a sign of jealousy.
Have you recently bought a second cat in the home? Maybe you have a new houseguest? It could be as simple as you’ve been working long hours, and haven’t been home much.
These changes can play havoc with a cat’s sense of security. Ensure that your pet is still enjoying all their usual routines.
Consider whether your cat is trying to show or tell you something. Do they only ever rub against you when you walk toward a particular room?
Your cat may smell something in there they don’t like, and they’re warning you against entering. Does your cat walk between your legs, then go in a different direction? Follow them. They could be trying to show you something crucial to them.
This may be genuinely important. A closed door is preventing access to their litter tray, for example. Alternatively, it may be that their favorite toy is stuck under the sofa.
Why Does My Cat Run Ahead of Me?
If your cat dashes ahead of you, stop and take a moment to consider what happens next. Does your cat hide, 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 particularly prevalent in kittens and young cats. It can manifest in felines of any age, however. This is because your feet and ankles are, for want of a better term, moving targets. The hunting instincts of cats will be triggered by movement.
It’s a common action, but that doesn’t mean that it’s one that should be encouraged. For a start, your pet will not be a kitten forever. What’s funny and cute from a young feline can be painful from an adult cat.
Also, this game could become dangerous. What’s to stop a cat from attacking you at the top of the stairs, for example? Cats are often 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. This is why play is such an essential part of pet ownership.
You’re not just strengthening your bond with your cat. You’re helping them hone, and use, their hunting instincts. The result will be a calmer, happier feline.
My Cat Cuts Me Off When I’m Walking
Often, this is just an extension of the behaviors that we have already discussed. 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. Your cat is saying, “I control where you do and don’t go – I’m in charge here.”
It’s uncommon for a cat to attempt to dominate over a human, but it does happen. 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.
They’ll also block paths and steal food or toys. A cat taking food from your plate or hiding your belongings could be displaying dominant traits.
Alternatively, they may just be acting mischievously for attention. Be careful about labeling your pet’s behavior. They may just be having fun.
If you do have a bossy cat, they need to put in their place quickly. Cats that consider themselves the head of a house can be challenging pets.
Whenever your cat displays dominant behaviors, put them in a time out to cool off. If necessary, use deterrents such as loud noises or shooting water from a squirt gun.
Just be sure not to fight fire with fire. If you match feline aggression with physicality, the situation will quickly escalate. If none you cannot curb your cat’s dominant traits, see a vet.
This is especially advisable if they are a recent occurrence. Your cat may be acting out of character because they’re sick.
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 are they trying to touch you with their paws, as though playing tag? They are two very different behaviors, with equally different meanings.
My Cat Swipes at Me With Their Claws
Feline aggression is usually a form of dominance. If your cat is attempting to hurt you, they’re trying to make you fear and respect them. This will need to be dealt with.
The first port of call in such a scenario is your vet. They will run tests on your cat to ensure they’re not unwell. Felines often become uncharacteristically aggressive when they’re under the weather.
Your vet will also recommend spaying or neutering your cat, if you have not already. This procedure drastically reduces aggressive tendencies in felines, especially males.
As the ASPCA explains, your cat’s aggression may be due to stress. When a cat is stressed, they are prone to acting out. Unfortunately, it’s easy to cause stress to a feline. They are particularly averse to change, so ask yourself if something is different.
Do you have a new houseguest, or even another pet? Your cat may be taking out their stress on you because they feel 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 violence.
If your cat was never socialized, they might not have learned what is appropriate. You may need assistance from a behaviorist to re-train 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, they’re demonstrating affection. As your pet has scent glands in their paws, they’re also marking you.
Now, this does not mean that your cat does not also want your attention. They are likely looking to remind you that they’re around, and have unmet needs. They’re just too polite – or too 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.
Do you touch your partner’s arm when reminding them they need to go grocery shopping? Your cat will be doing the same if it’s past their dinnertime.
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 concern attacks your cat’s nervous system and impacts their 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 the condition, see a vet. Your cat’s life is not endangered by vestibular disease, but it could be linked to a more severe condition.
The cause could be an allergy or an ear infection. However, a vestibular disease can also be linked to concerns as dangerous as a tumor.
I Accidentally Stepped on My Cat
The biggest 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 stand on your cat, take a step backward. You’ll be concerned, and you can check them for injury in just a moment. Your cat needs to understand that it was an accident.
If you loom over a cat straight after stepping on them, they’ll think they’re being attacked. That will result in fear-based self-defense action, such as clawing and biting. After a moment or two, you can assess them.
To assess your cat for injury, touch each of their limbs and their tail. If your cat reacts poorly to any being touched anywhere, they’ll be experiencing pain.
Apologize to your cat with strokes and playtime, and move on. 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 they have evil intentions. Tripping over a cat is easy.
There is always a reason for cats getting underfoot, and their intentions are usually innocent. Aggressive, dominant behavior needs to be nipped in the bud. If your cat is not hostile, however, they want a little attention.