Why Does My Cat Grab My Leg When I Walk Past?

By Phil / July 3, 2020
Why Does My Cat Grab My Leg When I Walk

Does your cat or kitten reach out and swipe or grab at your leg when you walk past them?

Don’t worry, mine does too!

So does countless other cats across the country, it’s perfectly normal behavior.

Being “normal” doesn’t make it any less annoying though, right?

Plus, receiving scratch marks down your calf just because you’re going for a coffee can get annoying!

Here are some of the reasons behind why some cats can’t resist grabbing and clawing at your leg as you pass them:

They Want to Get Your Attention

What better way to get your attention as your pass by than grabbing a hold of your leg?

It’s not how we would get the attention of someone else. Unless we were laying on the floor, then it might actually be something we’d do….

For cats, however, it makes sense to just grab at whatever they can. Plus, they don’t realize that it’s going to hurt if they connect claw with skin.

When cats play with each other they will usually have their claws out, but with a thick coat of fur and two layers of skin, they rarely draw blood.

If your cat is trying to get your attention, I’d bet it means they are either hungry or want to be let out. Am I right?

They Think You’re Playing With Them

They Think You're Playing With Them

If you have a kitten or a young cat, you’ll know how playful they are. I’m guessing very, and often at times when you’re too busy to play or aren’t even thinking about it.

Cats see things around them very differently from how we do. When you walk past your cat you think nothing of it.

But what your cat sees might be very different. They might think you’re waving the leg of your pants at them, or if you have shoelaces they might see this as something to chase.

If you have a playful cat, it’s probably best you avoid getting within swiping distance. Which isn’t always easy if they’re guarding a doorway!

They Are Sharpening Their Hunting Skills

Even domestic cats feel the need to hunt and practice their hunting skills. They generally get this out of their system by playing with toys – or your leg.

The need to hunt is ingrained deep into their DNA. Even if you’re not totally aware of it, when they’re chasing and pouncing on toys, in their mind they’re catching prey.

By playing with them and setting boundaries while playing, you can train them not to pounce on you. A firm “no”, and walking away when they pounce on your instead of a toy will get the point across.

This should lessen the chance of them grabbing at your legs. But, honestly, it’s one of the more difficult kitty behaviors to change. It’s just so hard to resist grabbing that leg!

They Are Agitated

They Are Agitated

How are they grabbing at your leg? Does it look like there is some intent to hurt you? If your cat is lashing out with a little anger, something must be agitating them.

It could be something that happened not too long ago. Or, it could be that you walking past them is winding them up.

It’s up to you to find out what’s annoying them and minimize it. Your cat should feel calm and stress-free in your home.

I hate to say it, but if walking so closely past them is what’s annoying them you’ll need to find a new route or approach with caution!

They’re Just, Well, Being a Cat

Let’s be honest here, cats do things that are annoying. Whether or not they’re trying to be annoying, there are several things they do that leave us wondering “why”.

Just think about these common kitty behaviors that can be pretty annoying:

  • Unrolling toilet paper and shredding it up
  • Cramming themselves inside an empty box that’s left out
  • Sitting/laying/sleeping on things we need to use. Such as laptops, the TV remote, our clean clothes
  • Laying in doorways
  • Attacking us in our sleep or hogging our pillows

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Some cat owners would simply call these things the joys of owning a cat. Personally, I envy how positive some people are!

In Summary

Now you know that being grabbed, attacked, or swiped at by your cat when you walk past is something most cat owners have to deal with.

You can do something to stop them if it’s annoying you. I covered four of the most common reasons why cats do this, so from there you’ll be able to figure out how to deal with it.

Image credits – Photos by Gogolev Aleksandr, Chen Zhao, and Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

Related Questions

Why Does My Cat Swipe at Me When I Walk By?

Swiping and grabbing at a leg usually has the same intent behind it. Read through the points above, you should be able to narrow down the reason behind this behavior and understand why they’re doing it.

How Can I Stop My Cat Swiping at My Leg?

Solving any cat behavioral problem starts by understanding why they’re doing something.
Once you find out the reason behind their actions – which you should be able to do with the information above – you can find a solution.
In most cases, the solution is going to be avoiding stepping over them or walking within swiping distance!

Is It OK to Step Over Cats?

There is nothing wrong with stepping over a cat if they’re in the way (as cats so often are).
You do so at your own risk though. I know with my cats, most of the time it’s simply too hard to resist reaching out and grabbing at me if I step over them.
The issue with this is that their claws will get caught in my socks or on the bottom of my pant leg.
This causes me to try to get my balance back while neither stepping on them or dragging them with me as their claw is stuck on my clothes!

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