You’re walking into the kitchen to start your morning coffee routine, and suddenly, your cat runs in front of you and almost trips you. Once you gain your balance, you look down to see your cat looking up at you innocently and expectantly. What just happened, and why did your cat run in front of you?
Cats walk in front of you mostly because they want you to do something for them, like feed them. They also might hear something in the wall and are scared and want you to investigate for them. Or they could be curious about what you’re doing. Of course, they could want attention.
Your cat doesn’t want to trip you as you might have thought, but to get you to do something for them. To learn more, your cat recommends that you read further.
Your Cat Might Want Food and Water
When your cat runs in front of you, it’s trying to tell you that it wants something. Look at your cat’s food or water bowl. Even if the food bowl is mostly full, your cat wants more food. Or, the water bowl needs to be freshened up a bit. But cats are notorious for acting like they are starving even though their food bowls are full.
Sometimes, however, the food might have something wrong with it, or it is stale. Check the food or bowl to make sure water didn’t accidentally get in the bowl to make it soggy.
Or, your cat’s water bowl might be empty or dirty and needs to be filled or changed. When cats get dehydrated, they develop kidney stones and become very sick. Cats will sometimes refuse to drink from a water bowl and instead prefer drinking from a sink.
One cat does just this, and when she wants water, she will meow and run around her humans until they turn on the water in the bathroom sink. She will wait until someone starts going in that direction and then runs in front of them and stops to look back. It’s as if she checks to see if the person is coming. When someone does turn on the water, she laps it up. After she finishes, she gets down and meows at the person to say she is finished.
They May Hear Something in the Wall and Are Scared
Sometimes, however, cats get scared by what they hear and run around you to try getting some comfort and reassurance that everything is okay. Cats have very sensitive hearing and can hear sounds on a higher frequency than humans, and can tell when something is scratching in the wall before their human friend can hear it. It’s not that they can hear more than humans can; it’s that their hearing is tuned in to the least little sound–the sound of prey.
If you live in an older house or apartment, it could be mice or bugs in the walls, and your cat is trying to tell you about it. When your cat runs in front of you, then goes to the wall, then back to you, it might mean that it hears something in the wall. Pay attention to the area your cat is tuned into, and watch for bugs or rodents.
Your Cat Is Curious About What You’re Doing
You are a very interesting creature to your cat, and when you get up to do something in the kitchen or go to the bathroom, your cat must come along. It is curious about what you are doing and wants to be part of your life, regardless of what mundane thing you are doing. To avoid tripping on your cat, try telling it where you’re going and what you’re going to do. It may sound silly, but it seems to work.
Cat parents will tell you that cats understand a lot more than they are given credit for and will do something else when they know what you’re doing. There are stories of cats, when told what to expect, will go sit off to the side and wait for what they want. Try saying the following to your cat when it runs in front of you:
‘I know you want food, but right now, I need to use the bathroom. I will feed you in a minute. Wait.’
You might be surprised at how much your cat understands when you talk with it all the time.
It’s Time for Attention
Your cat sometimes walks in front of you because it wants attention. If your cat’s food and water bowls are filled, there’s nothing in the wall, and nothing else seems wrong, it might be that your cat wants you. The most obvious response to this behavior might be to pick up your cat and give it some attention and cuddles.
However, not all cats want to be picked up. In that case, bend down to pet it. Or, it might want to play because it is bored and wants something to do. A string or laser pointer should provide enough entertainment to keep it from walking in front of you and tripping you.
Cats also know when you’re going to their favorite spots in the house and will walk in front of you to get there first, so they can sit with you. Since they know they can get attention from you when you’re both in your favorite spot, they will try racing you to the spot.
If walking in front of you doesn’t work, they might try rubbing against your leg. But they reserve that action for when they are hungry, and you’re not rushing to feed them.
Your Cat Is Disoriented
Cats will become disoriented due to an accident or an illness and will walk in front of you or zig zag through the house without realizing what they’re doing. If a cat has a concussion, it will hide its pain well but will begin acting weird. Or, if your cat recently gave birth, she might be disoriented and need a vet visit.
Pay attention to other behaviors your cat displays. How is your cat’s appetite? Does your cat sleep more often, or less often, than usual? It might be time for a vet visit if these behaviors continue.
How to Avoid Disaster When Your Cat Runs In Front of You
Cat paws and tails are often casualties of them walking in front of you too often. If you don’t see your cat ahead of time, it’s quite possible to step on their tails or paws, resulting in an awful shriek. If your cat loves walking in front of you, there are some actions you can take to avoid disaster.
- Be aware of where your cat is when you walk, if possible.
- If your cat stops in front of you, try walking over it.
- Take care of your cat’s needs beforehand to not give it a reason to walk in front of you.
Cats, no matter what you try, will walk in front of you and stop in their tracks, which can cause some disasters. And the question is not if you step on your cat–it’s when you step on your cat because of how quiet they are sneaking up on you.
At this point, all you can do is minimize the damage. Your cat will run, but when you catch it, try to make sure its paw or tail is not damaged.
While you can’t stop your cat from walking in front of you, you can help it happen less often.
- FAQ Cats: Why Do Cats Walk In Front of You–Understanding Herding
- Cuteness: Why Do Cats Zig Zag Back and Forth In Front of You While Walking?
- Senior Cat Wellness: Why Does My Cat Try To Trip Me When I walk?
- Cat Watch: Underfoot: Annoying and Dangerous
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.