cat around legs

Why Do Cats Try To Trip You? 6 Reasons

The reason cats seem to want to trip you is to try to get you somewhere or to do something.

This type of herding behaviour shows up in dogs, but it’s also quite common in cats.

Whether your cat’s trying to convince you to give her a snack or just walk towards the bed and sit there and give her cuddles, she’s going to herd you for it – and be incredibly cute while doing it!  

6 Reasons Why Your Cat May Try To Trip You:

1. Herding

This is perhaps the most possible answer to the question. Cats somehow manage to convince you that you have to meet their needs and they do it all the time.

The same goes for their favourite places in the house.

If your cat loves to sit in bed with you while you’re reading or watching a TV show, she’s going to try to herd you there when she’s in the mood for some cuddles and a nap with her human friend.

cat near legs

But how can you tell when you are being herded?

Well, there’s a simple test that you can use.

If your cat is walking right in front of you and seems excited to get you somewhere, you can just take a step back and see whether she turns around and sees what you’re doing, after which she comes to you and tries to get you to continue to walk that way. 

Cats can sometimes notify their owners that they want to go outside by herding them toward a window or even the door. 

This is particularly true for cats that spend a good share of their time outdoors. 

2. It’s playtime!

Cats can sometimes use you as a toy. 

That might not sound too pleasant, but they do tend to hunt down their owners all over the house, so they’ll trip you on purpose, just because it’s fun. 

cat playing with girl

If there’s no prey around, you can become the prey! 

They can also try to convince you to grab a toy and keep them entertained.

By the way, play is essential for cats as it keeps them mentally stimulated. 

You need to make sure that you spend at least 15-20 minutes per day playing with your cat otherwise they can become depressed. 

3. Dominance

Hierarchy matters a lot when it comes to cats, although it might sometimes be less relevant than for dogs, for example. 

Cats tend to show dominance when they live with other cats. However, most pet guardians think that they see us, people, like their bigger brothers. 

After all, they share the same living space with their humans, so they have to assert some kind of dominance in order for them to keep you doing things for them. 

cat waiting to trip man up

Don’t worry, more often than not, this type of behaviour is absolutely harmless and is not going to lead to your cat becoming aggressive just because it is the dominant one out of you two. 

In fact, dominant cats that are punished or forced to do things they don’t want to can begin to attack people or start marking their territory in an excessive manner (such as peeing on your clothes or your shoes, for instance). 

In other words, your cat might try to trip you because she is effectively blocking your path, another sort of manipulation that she might resort to.  

4. They want your attention

Whether they want to spend time with you so they wish you’d sit still somewhere or they just want you to give them a cat treat, cats try to get your attention by walking in front of you or rubbing on your legs and apparently trying to trip you. 

cat with tail wrapped around human leg

It’s all a matter of repetition.

If you’ve taught your cat that if she gets in-between your legs, she’s going to be petted, she’s going to do it again in the future.

5. Feeling confused

Cats can sometimes try to trip you for perfectly normal reasons, such as those that we have already described, but they can sometimes also do it to get your attention and tell you that something’s wrong with their health. 

Pets that have a neurological lesion or disease are likely to show a variety of strange symptoms, such as staring into space or yowling all of a sudden. 

Geriatric cats can even develop dementia, so if your feline friend is quite old, this could be another reason why she’s trying to trip you. 

6. Separation anxiety

Some cats are just very clingy, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.

That’s why they get seriously excited when you come back home from work, for example. 

cat rubbing against leg

A cat will get between your legs and look like she’s trying to trip you, but in fact, she just really doesn’t want you to leave her alone. 

Try to create a calm and peaceful living environment for yourself and your cat and teach her that she has nothing to worry about in terms of safety or attachment, that you’ll continue to love her and care for her no matter what happens. 

Unfortunately, some cats remain anxious for the rest of their lives, especially if they were adopted after going through trauma or spending a lot of time on the streets without an owner. 

It’s your responsibility to make your cat feel as safe as possible. 

Why does your cat rub against your legs while trying to trip you? 

There are two main reasons why cats also rub against your legs while you’re trying to get somewhere in your home. 

On the one hand, they are marking you with their scent since they have scent glands in their cheeks and in their forehead area. 

This type of behaviour can be commonly shown by cats that have separation anxiety, for example. 

cat around legs

Besides, cats aren’t as silly as we sometimes think they are. 

They can understand your reactions very well, so they know that you’re likely to stop walking and give them some attention if they rub on your legs and look incredibly cute. 

So it is a form of manipulation, one that makes them get the snacks they want or at least point you in the right direction if you’re supposed to cuddle with them rather than work in front of the computer. 

Can you prevent your cat from trying to trip you?

Not really.

Once they put their mind to it, cats can be very persuasive, so if they want you to give them attention, they’re not going to act cool and distant. 

In fact, they’ll be as dramatic as possible, how else are they going to get you to pay any attention, especially since they’re so small compared to people? 

The frequency of this behaviour depends on your feline buddy’s personality, so if your cat is clingy, she’s likely to walk in front of you or in-between your legs a lot more than an independent cat. 

If you’ve just got a kitten and she’s starting to get used to you, your living environment, and your habits, she might try to trip you a bit more.

She’s effectively teaching you to do things for her. 

But if you’ve lived with your cat for more than 5 or 6 years, to give you an example, you’re likely to notice that this behaviour starts to happen a little more rarely than it used to. 

Cats become accustomed to us, and as they do, they become more relaxed and begin to trust us and understand that we can tend to their needs without them having to convince us to do it. 

Conclusion

Cats try to trip you to get your attention, whether they want you to do something in particular, like give them some food, or they want to get you someplace in your house, like a comfy couch where you can pet them and make them feel comfortable. 

Although this behaviour can be considered a form of manipulation or a way that our feline friends actually train us, it is an important means of communication for cats.

Cats that have separation anxiety or are unusually attached to their owners are likely to behave in this way a lot more frequently compared to independent cats. 

Sometimes, cats can try to trip you because they want to play with you as they might have no other entertainment opportunities available. 

If you suspect that this is the reason for this behaviour, just pick up your cat’s favourite toy and test your theory! 

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