Categories: cat body language

Why do cats do the crab walk?

Cats do the crab walk to ensure that the side of their body always faces the hostile stranger opposite who may be a threat to them. The crab walk makes cats look as large as possible. Size counts as it does in the human world. Their size is further enlarged by the hairs down their spine becoming erect. It is all about smoke and mirrors to try and see off the unwanted intruder. It is better to scare them off than fight them as it avoids injury.

Crab walk cat. I added the yellow lines to highlight the flattened ears, the heightened, arched back and fluffed tail. The flattened ears protects them from being harmed and the other aspects of this body language make her look larger.

We often see kittens practicing the crab walk with great elan and joy. They almost bounce along when travelling sideways. When my cat was a kitten he would see his shadow on the wall from my bedside light (he was on my bed with me). He immediately treated his shadow as a hostile cat and started to do the crab walk with gusto. This meant that his shadow bounced around more which made it more interesting for him.

Cat body language. Presenting the maximum amount of body to the opposite entity. This young cat is doing in play.

The crab walk is one of many forms of domestic cat behaior and body language when facing a “hostile”. Sometimes cats add a weird growl or more likely a hiss to their crab walk to further try and scare off the opposing cat. And as you know the ears are flattened to protect them and the tail is fluffed to add to the sense of size.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Do cats pick up on negative energy?

The wider question is whether cats pick up on human emotions and body language. Cat…

5 hours ago

The beneficial role of companion animals during coronavirus lockdown

You would expect that the presence of companion animals in a household during the coronavirus…

6 hours ago

Picture of black Maine Coon on black background

Maybe the prettiest Maine Coon you’ll see How big are Maine Coons? This picture shows…

19 hours ago

What do Abyssinian cats look like?

The Abyssinian cat is an athletic looking companion animal. People who breed Abyssinian cats i.e.…

19 hours ago

University of Guelph’s one cat meal a day study ignores the size of the stomach

The domestic cat's stomach is too small for a big, one meal a day mild…

1 day ago

5 fruits that domestic cats shouldn’t eat

People ask whether our domestic cat companions can eat watermelon, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries,…

2 days ago