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We know cats are prone to strange behaviors, but it never fails to scare us when we see our furry friend doing something a little strange. One of the weird things cats sometimes do is walk or run sideways. But why do cats run sideways?
Cats run sideways when they feel very playful or mischievous. The side-to-side running makes them look like they’re almost jumping side to side. Cats engage in this behavior to try to entice you into playing with them.
Although running to the side may seem strange, it’s perfectly normal and not a sign that anything is wrong. Let’s dive deeper into this running behavior, how to recognize it, and what it can mean for your cat.
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Reasons Why Cats Run Sideways
Lateral running happens often in cats, but here are some key reasons why it happens.
Your cats are playful
The most likely reason your cat is running sideways is that you grabbed him when he was in a playful mood. Cats act stupid when ready to play.
The best thing to do when you think your cat wants to play is to get on their level and engage with them. Cats love it when we get on all fours at their level to play.
Your cat feels on guard or initiated by something in its environment
Your cat may also walk or run sideways as a reflex when she is afraid of something going on in her environment. We’ve all heard the colloquial phrase “scary-cat” before, and that phrase isn’t entirely inaccurate.
When a cat feels threatened, their instinct is to run away or run away from the situation as quickly as possible.
Your cat is trying to avoid something
Likewise, cats are very quick on their feet, so they will jump out of the way whenever an unpleasant situation unfolds around them. Cats can easily climb or hide when necessary and are not afraid to do so when they want to avoid something.
Your cat might run to the side to escape your embrace if you try to pick him up and he’s not in the mood to be held. Your cat may also run sideways if he senses you’re trying to take him to the vet or put him in the car.
Cats apparently have a sixth sense for knowing when something unpleasant is about to happen. Be careful if your cat has a tendency to run away as it is easy for them to slip out of your grasp when pulling this maneuver.
Your cat is in a fiery mood
Sometimes your cat can end up with a lot of extra energy. Maybe your cat slept most of the day and woke up feeling rested, or couldn’t run and play as much as usual.
When cats have a lot of extra energy, they can often get carried away and start getting into mischief. Some pet owners call these crazy bursts of energy “zooms” because their cat will start zooming around their house.
When your cat starts acting more than usual, that’s your cue to make sure she’s getting enough exercise each day.
Your cat wants your attention
Your cat may also run sideways or dance to try to get your attention. Cats often do this when you’ve just walked in the door after being away all day and they’re trying to get you to pet or feed them.
Why do cats arch their backs and run sideways?
Cats arch their backs to make themselves look bigger than they are. Cats are relatively small animals in the animal kingdom, and they often arch their backs to puff themselves out when feeling defensive.
They assume this position in situations where their guard is up. When cats arch their backs and run sideways, they leap or run away from the threat.
If you see a cat taking this position, know that it is defensive and possibly in a fighting mood. If another cat or animal has caused them to strike this pose, you should try to defuse the situation as quickly and safely as possible. Male cats are more likely to fight than female cats, but cats aren’t afraid to fight when their safety is compromised.
What Does It Mean When Your Cat Starts Walking Sideways
If you notice that your cat has started to walk sideways frequently and seems a little disoriented, you may need to assess whether your cat has vestibular disease.
Signs of vestibular disease in cats can include sudden loss of coordination, bending or side-walking, and unexplained nausea.
Vestibular disease can affect a cat at any age, and it is not a condition that gets worse as the cat ages. This condition develops when there is an imbalance in the inner ear.
If the vestibular apparatus is damaged, your cat will have major difficulty with its balance and ability to walk in a straight line.
Although it is not fully known what causes cats to develop vestibular disease, there is often no underlying cause. However, some breeds are naturally more predisposed to developing this condition, such as Siamese and Burmese cats.
The good news is that this condition is treatable for cats. Typically, vestibular disease will clear up on its own within a few days, and if not, your vet should be able to put your cat on medication to alleviate it.
If your cat has a history of inner ear problems, their chances of developing vestibular disease will also increase. Keep an eye out to see if your cat seems to be itching or scratching his ears, as this could be a sign that he has an inner ear infection.
What does it mean when a cat jumps sideways
If a cat hops to the side and shows no other aggressive behavior, your cat is simply trying to play. They may jump to get your attention or that of another animal in the room.
Cats love to fight and appreciate you taking note of this behavior and playing with them. If you find that your cat is often in a playful mood and can be overly rambunctious, you may need to buy him some other toys so he can vent his energy in a different way.
Laser pointer toys are a great toy option for cats that like to jump and hop. Cats can follow the laser pointer around a room and try to catch the light.
Why do cats walk sideways when playing
Cats walk sideways when playing to try to start a play session. Cats walk sideways to increase the energy of a situation and get someone to play with them. Cats are quite light on their feet, so they can sometimes make sudden movements without really trying.
Why do kittens walk sideways
Kittens often walk sideways as they learn to gain footing. They are new to life and are often a bit wobbly for the first few months. When kittens are young, they also practice their different postures.
Kittens are also inexperienced in regulating their energy, so they might feel a sudden burst of energy that causes them to act a little more awkwardly.
While running or side-walking is one way cats show excitement or playfulness, there are other ways cats let you know when they want to play. Cats may also approach you and rub their face against your arm or leg to cuddle you, which is both a form of affection and a way to get your attention.
If you see your cat running around in circles in your home or trying to scratch or chew on furniture, it could also be a sign that she is trying to vent her excess energy throughout the day.
While you may not like either of these behaviors, cats will also bunny kick, gently bite, or playfully hit their owner or another animal when they are ready to play. . These behaviors can seem aggressive when inflicted on a human, so it’s best to encourage your cat to use their energy in other ways.