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Why Do Cats Run Sideways?

by Lucy

Some feline behaviors even have long-time kitty owners scratching their heads. People love everything about their cats, even the odd quirks here and there, but there’s no denying cats behave in strange ways that seem to defy sense.

The thing about cats is that you can’t really explain their mannerisms completely accurately all the time. But, when you take a look at the general behavior of a larger sample of kitties, you start to see certain similarities. It becomes easier to make reasonably accurate guesstimates about why your pet behaves in a particular way.

Now, it’s common to find kitty guardians confused over their cats running sideways. And, if you’re wondering what’s wrong with it, wonder no more.

Why do cats run sideways? For cats, running sideways is actually quite normal. Cats generally do this if they are feeling threatened and want to look bigger and scarier. However, this doesn’t always mean your cat is scared or territorial. Kittens sometimes run sideways while playing.

Kitties all across the globe do run sideways. But, they only tend to run sideways when they are trying to make a point. Let’s take a look at some of the things that your fluffy friend is trying to tell you by hopping about sideways. 

When Do Cats Run Sideways?

Cats don’t just walk sideways. You’ll see that their sideways walk pose is often associated with an arched back stance too. It is referred to as the Halloween cat pose. But this pose doesn’t always mean your kitty is angry or frightened.

You see, there are several scenarios where you’ll find your pet arching its back and trotting sideways. So, here are naming a few of such circumstances.

When Your Cat Is Feeling Threatened

The general assumption that your cat is running sideways because it is feeling insecure is the first and, in most cases, correct assumption. This defensive stance is the hard-wired reaction to territorial invasion.

When your cat feels threatened that its territory is being invaded, it’s going to walk by sideways to look big and scary and let you know that it’s not easy prey. Don’t approach a cat when it’s reacting to you this way; you’ll get clawed and the cat may be traumatized if anything goes wrong.

When Your Cat Is Trying to Intimidate Another Animal

If you want your kitten to become instant friends with the new puppy you’ve adopted, think again. Walking sideways can be a show of dominance and strength too. You see, when your kitty walks sideways, it does that with an arched back and a fluffed-up tail.

In other words, it’s attempting to make itself look bigger and far more frightening than it is. And, such a show is put on not for your benefit. Instead, it is to put someone or something in its place. So, the new pet is welcome to a select corner of the house until your purr-fect kitty feels otherwise.

When Your Cat Is in Play Mode

It may sound hard to believe, but cats do indeed go run sideways even when they are in an immensely good mood. Such behavior is usually seen in younger cats or kittens. You see, when cats are young, they are in the process of learning correct behaviors and the proper ways to react to things.

The act of playing with other cats helps them to better understand their palce in the world and how to navigate it. So, the arched back pose and walking sideways is part of play. And only when your cat is older does it use the sideways walk as a defensive tool.

It is rare, but some cats take to sideways walking when they are under the influence of the zoomies. It is standard kitty behavior to run up and down on the furniture in the middle of the night.

Such behavior usually happens when your cat experiences a surge of energy and vents it out almost immediately. When your cat is pulling a zoomie, it may very well trot sideways, too. That is neither done in anger or joy. It is simply a way to expel energy.

When Your Cat Has Health Concerns

The vestibular apparatus is a part of the inner ear of a cats’ anatomy. It is the vestibular apparatus that is responsible for the cat’s balance and coordination. In short, the vestibular apparatus helps kitties keep their balance and aids in their sense of direction.

When the vestibular apparatus is damaged in any way, your cat will have severe problems keeping its balance and may wind up walking sideways. But, with a damaged vestibular apparatus, your cat will also face other grave health problems such as vomiting, head tilting to one side, or nausea.

Then there is a loss of body coordination, and your cat may keep circling to one side or losing its balance and fall repeatedly.

Furthermore, your beloved cat may experience nystagmus, which happens when the body loses its ability to control body movement. Hence, the eye movements become errant. The iris of the eye keeps darting back and forth.

Now, the vestibular may get damaged through an injury, but it is common in cats to get this vestibular disease. And it can be contracted at any age. Also, it can be acquired due to ear infections or tumors too. Or, the exposure to certain toxins or drugs can harm your cat’s vestibular apparatus.

So, if your cat is walking sideways a lot, is vital to note whether or not it is showing other signs of vestibular disease. And, if you do see any other symptoms, then it’s best to head straight to the vet. 

Related Questions

Parenthood doesn’t come easy to anyone. If you are having trouble caring for your pet and feel bewildered about its peculiarities, don’t fret. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions to help you give all the TLC your beloved pet deserves.

Why Is My Cat Facing the Corner?

Cats don’t take well to changes. It means that if you bring about any change to the household or your kitty cat, be it the diet, the sleeping routine, or the introduction of new family members to the home, your cat’s going to pitch a fit. 

Now, a fit from a cat can mean anything from your cat sitting angrily in corners to pooping on the carpet. So, don’t be overly concerned. And, don’t get mad at your feline; your cat doesn’t understand your anger.

So, the best way to turn your cat’s discomfort is to give it more love and care. Don’t encourage bad behavior. And constantly reinforce good behavior with treats. The treats then work as positive reinforcement.

But, your cat may also be interested in corners as it may have found a bug or insect and wants to play with its newfound buddy. Cats love to chase and torture insects. Flies, moths, cockroaches, even ants aren’t safe from your kitty’s wrath. 

It would be wise to keep your house free of bugs. Your cat will enjoy playing with bugs, but this doesn’t mean that your cat cannot be hurt by these tiny creatures too. So, it’s best to get your cat toys to play with and keep the bugs limited to the garden area.

What Are Cat Zoomies?

Cat zoomies are the phase your cat goes through when it goes out of its normal state to one of hyperactivity. It is referred to as ‘the zoomies’ as that is what is seen when your cat wants to exert its extra energy.

Your cat will zoom from one spot to another in a few seconds, without any rhyme or reason. Hence the name “zoomies.”

It is standard to see your cat go from dozing mode into wild sprints across the hallway. Or, it may even go to the litter and give you a sideways walk to show its enthusiasm. 

Now, it isn’t easy to state what causes the zoomies, but vets worldwide figure that most cats go into zoomies when they wake up after a particularly long nap. Cats can sleep from 12-16 hrs. And, they zoom around the house to vent out some of the excessive energy. 

Another instance of the zoomies is when cats are hunting prey. It doesn’t have to be an actual, physical creature that your cat may be chasing. But it’s still going to give its imaginary prey one heck of a chase. 

As mentioned earlier, cats seem to be relieved whenever they have a decent go at pooping. So, if your cat has just had a bowel movement, it may give a celebratory zoomie moment to appreciate its well-being.

Why Do Cats Lift Their Butts When Scratched?

Some cats aren’t cuddlers, but even the most stand-offish cats usually enjoy a good cuddle and scratch every once in a while.

Now, cats are much like humans. So, every kitty cat has a different petting spot. But, when you look at most felines, you’ll see that they tend to enjoy being scratched at the base of their backs. And, when you reach the bottom of their backs, they raise their bums. 

Now, to you and most new pet parents, it may seem irregular. But, it is not a recent phenomenon and is instead something quite regular that is seen in most cats.

Such behavior is instilled into them from their childhood. You see, when mommy cats care for their kittens, they also need to clean away their bums, and to do that, the mommy cat has to lift their tails to perform the cleaning. Hence, cats associate the touch close to the tail as a caring gesture and naturally raise their bums.

Up Next: Do Cats Need Chew Toys?

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