Why Do Cats Run Sideways – A Feline Mystery


Cats are known for their peculiar behaviors, so it always surprises and frightens us when we witness our furry friends engaging in unusual activities. One of these peculiarities is when cats walk or run in a sideways manner. However, the question remains: what is the reason behind cats running sideways?

Cats run sideways when they are feeling extra playful or mischievous. It looks like they are hopping from side to side. Cats do this to try and get you to play with them.

Even though running sideways may seem strange, it’s completely normal and doesn’t indicate any issues. Let’s explore this running behavior further, learn how to identify it, and understand its significance for your cat.

Reasons Cats Run Sideways  

Cats frequently run sideways, and there are a few main reasons why they do it.

Your Cats Is Playful

The main reason why your cat is running sideways is probably because you’ve caught them in a playful mood. Cats tend to act silly when they’re in the mood for playtime.

If you think your cat wants to play, the best thing to do is to get down on their level and interact with them. Cats really enjoy it when we get down on all fours to play with them.

Your cat is feeling cautious or provoked by something in its environment.

When cats feel scared about something happening around them, they might walk or run sideways as a reflex reaction. We’ve all heard the saying “scaredy-cat” before, and it’s not completely wrong.

When a cat is scared, its natural response is to quickly run away or find a way to get out of the situation.

Your Cat Is Trying To Avoid Something

Just like humans, cats are really fast, so they will quickly move out of the way when something bad is happening. Cats can easily climb or find a hiding spot when they need to and they’re not scared to do it if they want to avoid something.

If your cat doesn’t want to be held, they might try to escape your grasp by running sideways. They may also run sideways if they think you’re going to take them to the vet or put them in the car.

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Cats have a special ability to sense when something unpleasant is about to happen. If your cat tends to run away, be cautious as they can easily escape your hold when they perform this move.

Your Cat Is In A Spirited Mood

There are times when your cat might have a bunch of extra energy. Maybe your cat has been sleeping all day and just woke up feeling energized, or they didn’t get to play and run around as much as they usually do.

When cats have a ton of extra energy, they can sometimes go into overdrive and start acting goofy. Some pet owners refer to these wild bursts of energy as “zoomies,” because their cat will start zooming around their house.

If your cat is behaving more hyper than usual, it’s a sign that they need more daily exercise.

Your Cat Wants Your Attention

If your cat is running sideways or dancing around, it might be because they want your attention. This behavior is common when you come home after being away for a while, and they want you to pet them or give them food.

Why Do Cats Arch Their Backs And Run Sideways

Cats curve their backs to make themselves seem bigger than they actually are. Cats are quite small compared to other animals, so they often curve their backs to make themselves look more intimidating when they feel threatened.

Cats assume this stance when they feel threatened. When cats arch their back and run sideways, they either pounce or flee from the danger.

If you spot a cat in this stance, it means they’re ready to defend themselves and might want to fight. If another cat or animal provoked them to do this, you should try to calm things down as fast and safely as you can. Male cats tend to fight more often than females, but cats aren’t afraid to fight when they feel threatened.

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What Does It Mean When Your Cat Starts Walking Sideways 

If you see your cat walking sideways a lot and looking a bit confused, you might want to check if your cat has vestibular disease.

Cats with vestibular disease may show signs such as a sudden lack of coordination, leaning or walking in a sideways manner, and experiencing unexplained feelings of nausea.

Cats can experience vestibular disease at any age, and it is not more likely to occur as they get older. This condition occurs when there is an imbalance in the inner ear.

If your cat’s vestibular apparatus gets damaged, it will have a hard time keeping its balance and walking in a straight line.

Although the exact cause of cats developing vestibular disease is not fully understood, it is often found to have no specific reason. However, certain cat breeds like Siamese and Burmese cats are more likely to develop this condition.

The great thing is that cats can be treated for this condition. Usually, vestibular disease will go away on its own in a few days, but if it doesn’t, your vet can give your cat medication to help with the symptoms.

If your cat has had previous issues with their inner ears, they are more likely to develop vestibular disease. Watch out for any signs of your cat itching or scratching their ears, as this could indicate an inner ear infection.

What Does It Mean When A Cat Hops Sideways

If a cat jumps sideways without being aggressive, it means they just want to play. They might be trying to get your attention or the attention of another animal in the room.

Cats love to play and have fun, so it’s important to engage with them and join in their rough play. If your cat is always in a playful mood and gets a bit too wild, you might want to consider getting some new toys to help them release their energy in a different and more controlled manner.

Laser pointer toys are an awesome choice for cats that enjoy leaping and bouncing. Cats can chase the laser pointer all over the room and attempt to catch the light.

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Why Do Cats Walk Sideways When Playing

Cats run sideways when they play in order to initiate a play session. They do this to increase the excitement and encourage someone to join in the fun. Cats are very agile, so they may occasionally make sudden movements unintentionally.

Why Do Kittens Walk Sideways  

Cats sometimes walk sideways when they are still figuring out how to walk properly. They are inexperienced and may be a bit unsteady on their feet during the first few months. Additionally, when kittens are young, they also practice various body positions.

Young cats are also not very skilled at controlling their energy, so they might be going through a sudden burst of energy that makes them behave a bit more clumsily than usual.

Final Thoughts

When cats run or walk sideways, it’s a sign that they’re excited or playful. But there are other ways cats communicate their desire to play. They might come up to you and rub their face against your arm or leg, showing affection and trying to get your attention.

If you notice your cat running around in circles all over your house or attempting to scratch or bite furniture, it could mean that they are trying to release their extra energy during the day.

Although you might not like it, cats also engage in playful behaviors like bunny kicking, gentle biting, or swatting at their owner or another animal when they want to play. These actions may seem aggressive when directed towards humans, so it’s better to encourage your cat to release their energy in different ways.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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