Why Do Cats Zig Zag Back and Forth in Front of You While Walking?

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Why Do Cats Zig Zag Back and Forth in Front of You While Walking?
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You haven't really been broken in as a cat owner until this otherwise lovable ball of fluff tries to trip you once in a while. The stealthy zigzag saunter in your path as you try to get from Point A to Point B has a meaning other than your cat proving how much floor space he can cover in one journey. The reasons he does this can vary from a simple attention-getting gesture to a reminder that you need to fill the food bowl.

They're Being Dominant

It's their house and you're the waiter, the lap and the sanitation worker rolled into one. A shy, passive cat may be willing to let you lead and will follow you with caution to see what's going on. A dominant cat wants you to believe that he's calling the shots and you're falling into line. Literally, this line may lead to the window shades, so you can open them and he can do some unfettered sunbathing, or to the back porch so you can let him do some bird-watching through the screen door.

Bossy cats usually show signs in addition to the 100-foot-trip, such as taking a seat in the middle of an open newspaper or nibbling a pet parent's toes to get them out of bed in the morning.



Keep hormonal aggression at bay by getting your cats spayed or neutered.

They're Trying to Tell You Something

For all of their skills, cats lack the ability to wave a pennant to tell you that something's up. How they get your attention can differ based on your cat's personality. The vocal types may yowl while tactile felines may just prod you with a soft poke of a paw.

You may be immersed in what you're doing around the house and the cat is telling you that it's time to stop and pay him a bit of attention. He may just be wanting to see you have a reaction, and thus interact with him. Or it could be a mini-crisis, such as you accidentally closed the door to the room housing his litter box.


It's Mealtime

Sometime between arriving home from work and settling down for an evening movie you forgot to pop a can for his highness. Your cat is here to remind you that it's mealtime. If the zigzagging is especially noticeable as you get within a stone's throw of the kitchen, your cat is telling you to follow his nose and get cracking on that food preparation. This can be accompanied by other signs as well, such as an interminable cat stare or poking your shin with his claw.

The zigzagging is basically the ambulatory equivalent of howling in your ear in the morning so that you'll get up and fill the food bowl. If he's learned that this behavior is rewarded with vittles in his tummy, you can expect to keep getting tripped up if you're late with his plate.


If your cat is constantly begging for food even outside of mealtime, and this is a behavior that's just developed or is accompanied by weight loss, consult your veterinarian. A ravenous appetite can be a sign of diabetes, hyperthyroidism or maldigestion.