Can Cats Walk Backwards?

Cats are vowed to love, and they love nothing more than capturing the hearts of their owners.

This is why so many people choose to become cat owners. Cats are able to recognize their walked-upon paths and navigate them effortlessly.

So, can cats walk backwards?

Cats have an innate ability to walk on four limbs and navigate their way around their environment using those paws. For this reason, many cat owners find it hard to believe that their cats can walk backwards as well.

But, cats are known to walk backwards in certain situations for various reasons such as stalking prey or protecting their kittens.

Although cats are able to walk backwards, they do not always do so intentionally.

Can Cats Walk Backwards?

Cats do, in fact, walk backwards and can do so quite competently.

They can take straight backward steps as well as walking backward on all four paws at the same time.

To avoid an accident, they often peek around corners or hide behind things before using their backward trick to get what they want.

Cats, on the other hand, are adept at using their environment to get what they want including stalking prey or protecting their kittens.

Only when they are terrified or seeking refuge do they tend to walk backward to escape or evade a threat.

Why Do Cats Walk Backward?

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

The vestibular system in cats is in charge of many bodily functions and is composed of the inner ear as well as the visual apparatus.

When the cat moves and performs behaviors such as walking, running and jumping, the vestibular system sends information to the brain making it possible for the cat to adjust its movements accordingly.

However, if the cat has feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease characterized by the infection of fluids in the abdomen and brain inflammation, the vestibular.

They are unable to detect any aberrant movement and when they do perceive a threat, they are unable to correct themselves and hence walk backward to make themselves less visible.

The way a cat moves is also affected by its physical state.


If your cat has recently had a seizure, particularly a partial seizure, it might walk backward for a while or stumble as long as its balance is compromised.

During the rehabilitation process, they experience balance and coordination problems which can make the cat walk backward on unsteady legs.

Ingestion of a dangerous chemical, diabetes, insect bites or stings are some of the common causes of seizures in cats.

Feline Vestibular Disease

In cats, walking backwards may sometimes be a sign of feline vestibular disease.

If the cat is sitting, standing, walking or running and suddenly begins to walk backward for no apparent reason or falls on its face or back on the ground when trying to walk backward, then it is time to consult a veterinarian.

This is because it is in charge of keeping the cat balanced and coordinated so that it walks and stand straight.

The system works by sending signals from the inner ear to the brain and eyes to regulate body balance and coordination while in motion.

When a cat develops feline vestibular dysfunction, its balance and coordination is affected and as a result it is unable to walk properly forward and backward, sit or stand steady.

This condition also affects older cats and those with diabetes or low thyroid activity.

Feline Cognitive Dysfunction

One of the disorders that causes a cat to walk backward is feline cognitive dysfunction or mental decline.

The problem is particularly frequent in older cats who develop memory problems and have difficulty recognizing familiar objects or their owners.

The more a cat gets older, the weaker its immune system becomes and the more likely it is to be affected by feline cognitive dysfunction.

The brain of a cat naturally deteriorates with age and it is normal for a cat to age faster than humans do.

When a cat is bewildered, disoriented or unable to recognize its surroundings, it is usually a sign that something is wrong with it and it needs to be examined by a veterinarian.

Feline Cognitive Dysfunction might make it difficult for your cat to follow its normal pattern of behavior, including grooming and feeding habits or walking to the front or back door when it wants to go outside.

The Cat is Scared

If your cat is terrified by something or someone, it might walk backward to avoid it.

If an item or a tiny animal scares your cat and he tries to escape it, it will not only run backward but backward and sideways as well.

In such cases, walking backwards is the safest way for the cat to leave the place where it encountered the scary item.

Walking back lets them flee a situation fast to avoid whatever scares them and if they don’t know what it is, by walking back, they decrease their chances of being injured or harmed.

Can Kittens Walk Backward?

Yes, they certainly can.

Kittens are always discovering new ways to walk around the house.

When kittens observe something that piques their interest or they are curious, they are likely to walk backward to check it out.

I wouldn’t say kittens are fearful all of the time, but if they are frightened by something or someone, they are very likely to run backward to get away and they usually move very quickly.

As a result, they often struggle to get turned around in the right direction when they reach their destination.

In any case, people tend to think that kittens have the ability of walking backward.

Can All Cats Walk Backward?

From a muscular aspect, it is pretty impossible for any animal to walk backward.

Yes, all cats, like kittens and all mammals for that matter can run backwards.

When it comes to walking backward, cats are not muscled backwards; therefore, they are at a disadvantage when compared to humans when it comes to running backward.

In a study of the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and American Shorthair cats by Barbara Becker-McGinnis of the University of California at San Francisco, the cats walked or ran forward at a pace of 11 to 18 feet per second.

Also Read: Are Bengal Cats Aggressive?


In conclusion, cats are able to walk backwards and they do so for a variety of reasons such as stalking prey or protecting their kittens.

Although this behavior may seem surprising to some cat owners, it is normal for cats to do so and doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem with their feline friend’s health; it is merely part of feline nature!

Furthermore , if your pet cat is moving backward on its own accord without apparent injuries or illnesses and doesn’t walk in a funny way or stumble, there is no cause for alarm.

With time your cat should be able to walk the right way and should be back to normal in no time!

That being said, if your cat is walking backward in a funny fashion or stumbling, you should take him or her to a veterinarian to make sure there are no underlying health conditions that need to be addressed.