Why Do Cats Walk In Front Of You? Herding Explained

If you have found yourself tripping over your furry friend you may wonder, why do cats walk in front of you?

As adorable as cats are, they can be annoying, and even downright dangerous, when they get underfoot.

Cats walk in front of their owners to herd them, get attention and affection, or seek some other reaction from their owners e.g get treats. Confident cats may try to lead you to their favorite playing spot or a closed door they’d like opened. Some cats may even block your path by sitting or laying down in front of you so you’ll give them attention.

Many owners assume their cat is trying to annoy them or trip them, but there are lots of reasons why a cat might walk in front of you.

Whether your cat walks in front of you or behind you can also indicate a lot about their Maine Coon personality!

Read on to find out just why your cat keeps tripping you at every opportunity.

Why Do Cats Walk In Front Of You?

Cats do not walk in front of their owners out of malice, even though it can be irritating at times.

So, why do cats want to walk in front of you?

Here are the general reasons behind this mysterious behavior:

Herding You

Cats often like to herd their owners in the direction of their choosing!

For example, maybe they wish to herd you towards their food bowl so they can make you aware they’d like more food.

Alternatively, cats are creatures of habit so your cat might just want you to sit down next to them and watch tv in the evening because that is what you routinely do.

Thus, if you’ve always done this, but are still busy working late into the evening, this might unsettle your cat.

In such instances, you can expect your cat to try herding you towards the sofa and tv as a way of encouraging you to stop working and rest!

They Feel Confident

If your cat is walking in front of you instead of behind you, this usually indicates that your cat feels confident.

It may also mean your cat is bossy or feels like it is in charge.

If you have a confident or dominant cat, then your cat may also lie on open books or magazines that you are trying to read or demand attention even when you are busy.

They Want To Be Involved

The most social cats love to be involved in just about everything their owners are doing!

This means they often follow their owners around from room to room.

A confident or bossy cat is likely to walk in front of you, while a more shy or passive cat might trail behind.

They Are Asking For Help

Try to follow your cat the next time they walk in front of you.

Sometimes, they walk in front in an attempt to lead you where they want to go!

They may want you to open a door or a window for them, or clean the litter box.

They Are Asking For Attention

If your cat walks in front of you, it could also be asking for attention.

Additionally, if your cat gently bats at you with its paws, then it’s likely asking to play.

Cats that flop over in front of you might be asking for cuddles, or they simply want to be admired and adored.

They Are Anxious

If your cat suffers from separation anxiety, it may follow you around so that it is always nearby.

Your cat may also want to be one step ahead of you so it can stop you from leaving the house!

If your cat is suffering from separation anxiety, then it is important to slowly get your cat comfortable with being alone.

How To Stop A Cat Walking In Front Of You

If your cat has been walking in front of you so much that you keep tripping, then it could become a hazard.

Here are some ways you can teach your cat to stop walking in front of you:

1. Ignore The Behavior

Cats do not learn well through punishment. Instead, it is best to ignore undesirable behaviors.

Since cats walk underfoot for attention, you will have to teach your cat that it will not get any attention that way.

Whenever your cat trips you or winds around your legs, stop walking and stand still. Do not pet your cat or talk to it.

Wait until the behavior stops, then keep walking forward as if nothing happened.

This can take several tries, but your cat will eventually learn to ask for your attention in less dangerous ways.

2. Clicker Training

Clicker training is a way to introduce positive reinforcement.

Continue to ignore undesirable behaviors, but use a clicker when your cat displays good behavior.

Your cat will first need to associate the clicker with positive reinforcement, so begin first by giving your cat a treat or praise every time you use the clicker.

Over time, your cat will learn to stop walking in front of you.

3. Treat Your Cat’s Anxiety

If your cat is walking in front of you due to separation anxiety, then the most effective way to stop this behavior is to lessen your cat’s anxiety.

Get your cat used to being alone by closing it into a room away from you for a little while.

Do this several times a day, so your cat can become more accustomed to being alone (source 1).

Why Does My Cat Run Ahead Of Me?

When your cat runs in front of you, it is likely trying to lead you in a certain direction.

If your cat runs ahead of you and then stops to look back, it is waiting to see if you will follow.

Your cat may also run ahead to get away from you, especially if it does not want to be picked up or petted at the time.

Finally, your cat may just have a burst of energy and want to zoom around for a bit (source 1).

Why Do Cats Try To Trip You When You Walk?

If your cat’s behavior has become hazardous, then you are probably wondering why does my cat try to trip me on the stairs?

Even tripping on a flat surface can be dangerous, but do not assume that your kitty is trying to cause harm!

Here are the usual reasons why cats try to trip you while you are walking:

It Wants To Play

If your cat suddenly bursts in front of you while you are walking, then you are probably asking, why does my cat want to trip me? In this case, though, your cat is probably just trying to play.

Many cats enjoy ambushing their owners because it is similar to the thrill of hunting!

It Wants To Snuggle

If your cat trips you by winding around your legs, it is probably just asking for attention or some cuddles.

Cats like to rub their cheeks on their owners so they can cover them in their scent, and they often circle their owner’s legs while purring if they want to cuddle, as well.

It Is Disoriented

If your cat is constantly tripping you but does not seem to be asking for attention, it could be disoriented or suffering from an underlying condition.

Cerebellar hypoplasia, dementia, and certain medical conditions can cause your cat to wobble, stumble, or unintentionally trip you (source 1).

How Do I Stop My Cat From Tripping Me?

If you have a cat constantly underfoot, then you may want to stop this behavior before it becomes hazardous.

Here’s what you can do to stop your cat from tripping you:

Ignore The Behavior

The best way to stop any negative behavior from a cat is to ignore it. This is especially useful when your cat is trying to get attention.

Your cat will quickly learn that tripping you does not result in the desired effect, and will hopefully find a less dangerous way to ask for attention.

Create A Schedule

Cats love routine.

If your cat is always asking to play or snuggle, then it may not be getting enough attention.

So, it is a good idea to create a schedule of when and where you play with or snuggle your cat. That way, your cat can expect attention rather than having to ask for it.

Clicker Training

As mentioned before, clicker training is a great way to teach your cat through positive reinforcement instead of punishment.

Since clicker training can be used to teach your cat all sorts of other behaviors and tricks, this is a great option.

Why Does My Cat Lay Down In Front Of Me When I’m Walking?

Does your cat block your path, then suddenly lay down in front of you?

While this may seem like a rude way to block your path, the reason behind it is much cuter.

A cat that lays down in front of you is asking for attention and usually cuddles!

If your cat lays down and exposes its belly, it means it feels very safe and comfortable around you. Usually, cats do not want you to touch their belly, but to instead admire them.

Similarly, you might be wondering, why do cats walk in front of you and stop?

In this case, it is usually a sign that your cat is trying to lead you somewhere.

If your cat walks in front of you, stops, and then looks behind at you, then it is checking to see if you will follow.

Why Do Cats Walk Zig Zag In Front Of You?

If your cat is walking in a zig-zag manner in front of you, then it is likely trying to herd you.

This irregular walking pattern is an attempt to guide you toward wherever your cat would like you to go.

If you follow your cat’s herding instructions, you may end up at an empty food bowl, a closed door that leads to the litter box, or your cat’s favorite toy (source 1).

Why Do Cats Herd You?

If your cat seems to be leading you somewhere, then you might ask, why is my cat herding me?

Cats herd their owners toward where they want them to go. For example, your cat may be asking you to open the window or play with you.

If you are wondering, why does my cat herd me to bed, do not take it too personally! Your cat is not trying to get rid of you; it is just trying to keep you on schedule.

Cats love routine, and if your routine changes, then so do theirs.

Your cat might be feeling tired and do not want to be woken up by you coming in late, or your cat just wants to snuggle you before it falls asleep.

How To Stop My Cat From Herding Me

If your cat is constantly herding you, then the best thing you can do is to ignore the behavior.

Your cat will continue to herd you if you follow, but if you stand still and do not give in, your cat will eventually learn to stop.

Why Do Cats Walk Back And Forth When You Pet Them?

Some cats pace while their owners pet them, but there are a few potential reasons behind this behavior (source 1):

  • Enjoyment: Your cat may just enjoy being petted by you, and walks back and forth for you to pet them more.
  • Overstimulation: If your cat is walking back and forth, and its ears or tail seem to be twitching irritably, then it could be overstimulated. Even if your cat likes being pet, it can become sensitive from too much petting or petting that is too hard or energetic.
  • Spreading Their Scent: Cats spread their scent through glands in their chin, cheeks, and paws, among other places. If your cat walks back and forth while rubbing up against you, then it is just trying to get as much of its scent on you as possible.

Why Do Cats Dart In Front Of You?

Some owners ask, why do cats run in front of you?

Sometimes, they might run in front of you to lead you somewhere else, or they may be trying to play with you.

If you are wondering why do cats dart across the room, the answer is usually “the zoomies.”

When cats get a lot of pent-up energy, they usually race around the room, sometimes jumping or climbing onto high places. This is an easy way for them to release that pent-up energy and get some exercise.

Why not take a look at my article ‘Maine Coon Zoomies‘ to learn about this weird Maine Coon behavior.

Why Do Cats Walk Slowly In Front Of Other Cats?

Cats walk slowly in front of other cats to avoid confrontation.

If they suspect the other cat might try to fight, then they will walk very slowly so the other cat does not pounce at any sudden movements (source 1).


If you want to know, why do cats walk in front of you, the answer is usually less malicious than you might think.

Cats tend to walk in front of their owners when they feel confident and secure in their family.

They might walk in front of you to lead you or herd you somewhere, or they may be asking for attention.

Related Questions

Why Do Cats Run In Front Of Cars?

Cats tend to run and bolt very suddenly if they are scared. This means they are more likely to run blindly into the road when they are spooked, without even considering that cars might be coming (source 1).

Why Do Cats Walk On You As You Sleep?

Cats may walk on their sleeping owners to wake them up for food or attention. Usually, though, cats like to walk on their owners to snuggle them or to get warm (source 1).

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 10 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend! UPDATE: We recently adopted two 4-year-old male Maine Coon cats. They are named Mika and Bali.

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