Why Does My Kitten Walk Sideways?

walk sideways

Kittens are known for their cute and playful nature, but sometimes their movements may seem unusual or concerning to their owners. One of these behaviors is sideways walking, which can range from a wobbly, unsteady gait to a more pronounced crab-walking pattern. Kittens can walk sideways for a number of reasons.

Sideways walking in kittens is a common behavior. It’s a normal part of their development and does not necessarily indicate any underlying medical conditions. It should not be of concern unless it is extreme or persists for a long period of time. In short, kittens literally grow out of it as they get older.

Developmental Reasons For Kittens’ Sideways Walking

Kittens are born with limited mobility and coordination, but they quickly learn to crawl, walk, and run as they grow and develop. However, during their early weeks of life, kittens can exhibit a sideways walking pattern that may seem unusual or concerning to their owners. This sideways walking is often due to their physical development and the proportionally larger size of their head and shorter limbs compared to adult cats.

Are kittens supposed to be wobbly?

As kittens grow, their muscles and coordination improve, allowing them to walk more steadily and with less sideways movement. By the time kittens are about 12 weeks old, they should have developed most of their coordination and balance and have a smoother, more stable walking pattern. The older kittens get, the less wobbly they become. It’s part of their development process.

Behavioral Reasons For Kittens’ Sideways Walking

Kittens are playful and curious by nature, and their behavior can also contribute to sideways walking patterns. Playful behavior, such as stalking, pouncing, and jumping on toys, can result in a sideways walking pattern as they prepare to pounce. This behavior is often referred to as play aggression and is a normal part of kittens’ development as they learn to hunt and play.

Why Do Kittens Arch Their Back and Walk Sideways When Playing?

Pre-pounce preparation and body language can also contribute to sideways walking, as kittens often arch their back and angle their body in preparation for a pounce. While this behavior is natural and healthy, it’s essential for kitten owners to provide a safe and supportive environment for their pets to play and explore. Providing appropriate toys, socialization, and training can help improve kittens’ behavior and prevent negative reinforcement that may affect their walking pattern.

Training and Socialization For Kittens

Training and socialization are essential for kittens to develop appropriate behavior, which can prevent negative reinforcement and ensure their healthy growth and development. Socialization involves exposing kittens to different people, animals, and environments to help them adjust to new situations and build confidence. It’s important to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior and avoid punishment or negative reinforcement, which can cause anxiety and affect their behavior and walking patterns.

Here’s a good article about kitten behavior that’s worth reading.

Appropriate toys and environmental stimulation can also help kittens develop appropriate behavior and prevent negative behavior. Providing scratching posts, climbing trees, and interactive toys can help kittens release their energy, stimulate their minds, and prevent them from engaging in destructive behavior. Owners can also use positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, or playtime, to encourage good behavior and discourage negative behavior.

Why do kittens walk sideways?
Joey stalking his prey

Sometimes, I just can’t resist a good play session, and I get so excited that I end up wobbling all over the place. It’s like my little legs just can’t keep up with all the fun I’m having! My humans say it’s totally normal for kittens like me to have a wobbly walk. Something about learning how to… movements or something? I don’t know what they’re talking about. I just think it adds to my charm…


Health Issues Related To Kittens’ Sideways Walking

While sideways walking is often a result of normal developmental stages, it can also be a sign of underlying medical issues that require veterinary attention. Some of the common conditions that can cause kittens to walk sideways or have an unsteady gait include ear infections, neurological issues, vestibular disease, ingestion of toxins, and injuries.

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Ear infections can cause pain and discomfort that affects the kitten’s balance and coordination, leading to sideways walking, head tilting, and other symptoms. Neurological issues, such as a brain tumor or a spinal cord problem, can affect the kitten’s ability to control its movements and balance.

Vestibular disease, a condition that affects the inner ear and its function, can cause dizziness and loss of balance, leading to an unsteady gait or a sideways walking pattern. Ingestion of toxins, such as lead or antifreeze, can cause nerve damage that affects the kitten’s muscle control and coordination. Injuries, such as sprains, strains, dislocations, or broken bones, can also cause a kitten to walk sideways or favor one side.

It’s important for kitten owners to monitor their pets’ behavior and seek veterinary care when they notice any persistent or concerning symptoms. A veterinarian can perform a physical examination, and diagnostic tests, and recommend appropriate treatment for the underlying medical condition.

Preventative Measures For Kittens’ Health and Well-Being

Prevention is key to ensuring the health and well-being of kittens. Routine veterinary check-ups can catch any health issues early on and prevent them from progressing to more severe conditions. Proper nutrition can support kittens’ growth and development, ensuring they have strong muscles and bones that can help them walk more steadily. A safe environment can prevent injuries and allow kittens to explore and play in a secure and stimulating environment.

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for kittens to develop strong bones and muscles, and to support their immune system. Kittens should be provided with kitten-specific food that contains appropriate levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support their growth and development. Fresh water should also be provided at all times to keep kittens hydrated.

Read also: Why Does My Kitten Fart So Much?

A safe environment for kittens should be free of potential hazards, such as toxic plants, sharp objects, or unstable furniture. Owners should also provide a comfortable sleeping area for their kittens, with a soft bed and blankets.


Sideways walking in kittens can be concerning for owners, but it is often a natural behavior that is related to their development and playful nature. While it may be a sign of underlying medical conditions, it can also be a healthy part of their behavior and play. By providing a safe and stimulating environment, socialization, and proper nutrition, owners can help their kittens develop into healthy and happy adult cats with a stable and steady walking pattern.

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