Why Do Cats Crab Walk?

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ve probably seen your cat crab walk across the floor.

Crab walking—or walking sideways—is a behavior that cats exhibit when they are being playful or generally being silly.

Crab walking is most often seen when a cat is chasing a toy or trying to pounce on an object.

But why do cats crab walk?

Let’s dive in.

Why Do Cats Crab Walk?


The most typical reason a kitty will resort to the crab walk is a desire to get away from something or someone that’s bothering it.

For instance, if it’s playtime and the cat sees you coming with a toy, it might run away with the toy in its jaws, only to retreat a few paces later.

In this case, the cat is likely retreating because it doesn’t want to drop the toy or because it feels threatened when you grab it .

Another common scenario is when a cat is playing with another cat and decides it’s time to leave; it will drop the game and head for the door to leave the room.

If your cat is stressed by anything—being startled by noise, being grabbed, etc.—it might retreat a few feet before finding its bearings again.

However, not all instances of cat crab walking are motivated by stress; sometimes it’s just a fun way for kitties to pass the time!


Cats who are bored may often try to amuse themselves by doing things that seem silly to us humans.

And for some kitties, that means engaging in a bit of “preening” —by this I mean slinking around on the floor and moving sideways in a slow gait—and occasionally doing little jumps backward.

These movements are all signs that the cat is trying to entertain itself and keep itself busy while you’re not around to play with it.

Your Cat Is Scared

The sideways run indicates fear in cats, as well, as it’s similar to their “freeze” response.

When they’re scared, they crouch down low to the floor, flatten their bodies out, and make themselves look as big as possible.

The sideways run gives them a chance to escape while looking like they’re walking away, not running away.

It also gives their paws the chance to grip the floor better in case they need to sprint to safety!

If you see your cat do this when you’re not around, it might be a sign of fear.

So, it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the environment—if you see an unfamiliar person or animal approaching, for example—to help determine if your cat is truly frightened or just playing “pretend.”

If you’re concerned, it’s best to take your cat to the vet for an exam to rule out any physical health issues that might be causing this behavior.

Practicing How To Move Quickly

Cat crab walking is a behavior that some cats exhibit as they walk.

It’s done by placing one foot in front of the other, then pivoting in place with the back leg before placing the other foot in front.

The behavior is extremely quick and athletic-looking.

It’s usually done when a cat sees something dangerous or wants to avoid something.

Cat crab walking comes from an ancestral behavior that allowed cats to move quickly between trees or branches.

Although this behavior is still commonly used today, it’s usually done only in the wild.

Today, cats mostly use another behavior called trot walking to move quickly between trees or branches.

Your Cat Wants Attention

Many cats love attention, and one way they get that is to beg for food and scratch at doors when they want out.

However, one strange behavior cats have is crab walking.

Cat crab walking is a type of repetitive walking that cats do when they’re feeling confused or nervous.

This behavior usually starts as a habit before the cat is two months old.

Usually, cat crab walking isn’t a problem, but it can cause the cat to injure itself.

For example, it can easily trip the cat up if it’s on a staircase or a high platform.

However, cat crab walking can sometimes be a sign of a neurological problem, so it’s important to keep an eye on your cat’s behavior.

How Should You Respond To The Crabwalk?

Unless your cat seems scared, the best method to handling a cat that is in the habit of doing the cat crab walk is to simply ignore it.

Whether it’s the zoomies or a request for attention, cats often like to play.

Toss out their favorite toy, or if you’re home, play a game of fetch with them.

If, on the other hand, you feel the crabwalk is indicative of something more serious with your cat’s health, you’ll want to take him or her to the vet immediately.

Instead, attempt to eliminate whatever is making them afraid or uncomfortable by making sure they’re comfortable in their home environment.

Do All Adult Cats Sideways Run and Hop?

It’s common to find cats running and hopping around your house or apartment.

However, not all cats do this. Some cats stay in one place, while others can be more lazy.

However, research has suggested that all adult cats run and hop sideways.

This behavior helps them stay agile and nimble as they navigate through their worlds.

Cats that stay in one place can lose this nimbleness and become stiff and inflexible.

Do Kittens Do The Crabwalk Too?

Yes, kittens do walk crablike as well.

Most kittens like crabwalking or sideways hopping when they’re young because they’re learning to move around on their own.

It’s really fairly frequent among kittens, and they generally outgrow it by the time they are 6 months old or so.

Because kittens are so new to being independent, they often have bad coordination.

They will also assume the arched -back position when they walk which is one way they move about with their front legs moving faster than their back legs.

Why Does My Cat Walk With His Back Arched?

Cats walk with their back arched for a number of reasons including just keeping balanced and to help cats maintain balance when walking up or down hills.

When dealing with prospective predators or being aggressive, a kitten will often arch his back to appear larger or to sound the alarm that the cat is ready to fight.

Why Do Cats Puff Up And Walk Sideways?

Cats often puff up and look bigger when they feel threatened or if they are trying to scare off a potential predator.

It basically makes the cat appear larger and more intimidating, but it’s actually just a form of play.

Also, sometimes cats are just trying to get some exercise by walking around in circles around the house!

It is a protective strategy utilized when a cat feels threatened by another animal or person.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Jump When Scared?


Cats will often crab walk as a way to get your attention or as a way of getting out of a tight spot without looking like they are running away!

This is done playfully in a lot of cases. However, if you are seeing your kitty doing this repeatedly and not coming out of its shell around you, there may be an underlying issue such as anxiety or other behavioral issues.

If you notice this behaviour in your pet contact your vet for an examination to determine if there is any underlying issue!