Why do cats run sideways? Even though we know cats are prone to strange behaviors, it never ceases to frighten us when we see our feline companion doing something unusual. Walking or running sideways is one of the strange things cats do from time to time. But why do cats run in circles? When cats are feeling particularly playful or mischievous, they run sideways. They appear to be hopping from side to side while running sideways. Cats use this behavior to entice you to play with them. Although sideways running appears unusual, it is completely normal and does not indicate something is wrong. Let’s look at this running behavior, how to spot it, and what it could mean for your cat.
What Does It Mean When Your Cat Runs Sideways?
Sideways running is common in cats, but there are a few important reasons.
Your Cat Is Playful
Because you caught your cat in a playful mood, they’re most likely dashing sideways. When it’s time to play, cats act irrationally. Get down on your cat’s level and interact with them when you think they want to play. When humans play on all fours at their height level, cats enjoy it.
Your Cat Is Defensive
When your cat is afraid of something in its environment, it may react by walking or running sideways as a reflex. When a cat senses danger, it will flee or scramble out of the way.
Your Cat Is Trying To Avoid Something
On the other hand, Cats are lightning-fast on their feet and would leap out of the way if an unpleasant situation arose. Cats can easily climb and hide when they need to, and they aren’t afraid to do so when they need to get away from something.
If you pick up your cat and don’t want to be held, they may run sideways to avoid your hug. If your cat senses that you’re trying to take them to the vet or put them in the car, they may flee.
Cats seem to have a sixth sense for knowing when something bad is about to happen. Be cautious if your cat is prone to fleeing, as this technique allows them to slip away from your grasp easily.
Your Cat Is Energetic
Your cat may have a lot of extra energy at times. Maybe your cat slept for most of the day and only now feels refreshed, or maybe they couldn’t jump around and play as much as usual.
Cats with a lot of extra energy tend to overdrive and do stupid things. Because their cat may begin zipping around the house, some pet owners prefer these wild bursts of activity as “zombies.”
When your cat becomes more active than usual, it’s time to double-check that they’re getting enough exercise every day.
Your Cat Demands Your Attention
Your cat may also try to attract your attention by racing sideways or dancing around. Cats frequently do this when you come through the door after being gone all day. They do this to try to get you to pet or feed them.
Your Cat Feels Scared or Threatened
Of course, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that cats will sometimes fluff up their tails and walk or run sideways when they feel threatened. Are there any larger animals in your home, such as a dog? Were there any loud noises that may have startled your kitty? When your cat arches its back and puffs its fur, it can look larger than it is. This is a means of defense when it feels threatened. It may move side to side instead of forward and backward to maintain its arched position or perhaps to distract a potential threat.
It’s A Case of the Zoomies!
A cat’s sideways run and hop could be related to a case of the zoomies in some cases!
We’ve all seen a cat with zoomies, and we’ve all been entertained by our cats sprinting from one side of the house to the other, with frantic climbs on the cat tree thrown in for good measure and, of course,,, the occasional crabwalk!
Isn’t this, however, the same as playing?
Not exactly; the sideways run and hop may not have a target when cats are in full-on zoomies. At least, not one that we’ll be able to solve. This is because cats are so tense that they can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds. “Most cats look like they’re having fun during the zoomies, even if it’s some very chaotic fun,” says veterinarian Megan McCorkle, “and will readily engage in play if you present them with a toy.” However, because the zoomies, or frenetic random activity periods (FRAPS) as they’re scientifically known, are so chaotic, cats may move on to the next thing almost immediately.
Not every cat’s zoomies “routine” will include a sideways run, but if it does, it’s usually nothing to be concerned about.
Your Cat Is Angry
Sometimes, your cat might run sideways at you if you are doing something it doesn’t like or it is angry. If the sideways running is accompanied by hissing, stand down and give your cat some space. Even though this behavior may be funny looking from your perspective, your cat is very serious. Avoid interacting with it for a while to prevent the behavior from escalating into true aggression.
How Should You Respond To The Crabwalk?
The best way to respond to your cat’s sideways running is to play in return unless your cat appears to be scared. Whether it’s the zoomies or a plea for playtime, most cats will gladly begin a play session in the middle of a crabwalk!
You can toss their favorite toy or get down on all fours and perform your crab walk if you’re feeling particularly playful. Keep in mind that some cats may not be prepared for a large human to fall to the ground and perform their crabwalk, so your cat may be startled at first! Allow your cat to decide when they want to play, and they’ll quickly realize it’s all part of the fun.
If, on the other hand, you believe your cat is doing the crabwalk in response to something frightening, it’s even more important to take it slowly. It’s not good to pick up your cat while they’re in a defensive stance.
Instead, try to get rid of whatever is making them afraid, and if it’s not a real threat, make sure your cat understands. Interacting with whatever your cat is afraid of can sometimes help them understand that it isn’t a real threat.
Why do cats run sideways? While one-way cats show excitement or playfulness is by running or walking sideways, there are a few other ways cats will let you know when they want to play. Cats may also approach you and nuzzle you by rubbing their face against your arm or leg, which is both affectionate and a way to get your attention. If you notice your cat running in circles around your house or scratching or chewing on furniture, they may be trying to release some of their pent-up energy. Cats will also do a little bunny kick, gently bite, or swat playfully at their owner or another animal when they are ready for playtime, even if you don’t like either behavior. When performed on a human, these behaviors can appear aggressive, so it’s best to encourage your cat to channel their energy in other ways.