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Why Does My Cat Army Crawl? (Impenetrable Defence?)

If you have noticed your cat army crawling you may be wondering why it is doing this and if you should be concerned about this behavior…

Why does my cat army crawl?

If your cat does the army crawl there are two main reasons for this. Either it just started wearing a cat harness and resisting, or it may be in heat. If it’s the former then this is expected when a cat is new to it. If it’s the latter, depending on the cat’s age, this is known to happen.

So, now you know. But, do all cats do this? what are the two main reasons for this? How can you train your cat to stop this? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

What is an army crawl?

Why does my cat army crawl?

A toy army tank next to a doll with pink hair.

An army crawl is when a cat, or a baby, drags their belly across the floor. For cats, this is done by using its front legs and paws. Therefore, its front legs are taking its entire body weight. For human babies, this is seen as a precursor to eventually creeping, then walking.

If you have ever seen a baby crawling like this now you know what this is and why they do it. For babies, it’s often seen as adorable and proof they are developing. For cats, it’s often a concern because they are not expected to do this as a precursor to walking.

2 Main reasons cats army crawl:

Earlier I explained the main reasons why cats army crawl. In this section I will expand on this to give you more detail on each of these:

01. Responding to a new cat harness

When a cat is new to a cat harness it may respond in some weird ways, including sitting down, army crawling, etc. It is basically unnatural and needs some time for them to adjust. And, in most cases, this is expected.

Think about it from the cat’s perspective, if someone put a harness on you wouldn’t you act in this way and show some resistance? Exactly.

02. In heat

When a female cat is old enough, usually from around 6-10 months old, it will have a time window of fertility and keen to mate. This time period is called “in heat”. And, during this time, you may see some weird behavior such as army crawling, low crawling, etc.

Do all cats army crawl?

Not all cats will army crawl. This is because they are only likely to do this if they have a specific reason such as being in heat or getting used to a harness. So, if your cat does not army crawl it is not an issue because this is not the norm for all cats.

However, sometimes cats may low crawl. This action can look similar, but not the same. And can be for different reasons (more on this later).

Is low crawling and an Army crawl the same?

Low crawling is not the same as army crawling. Low crawling is when a cat crouches low to the ground and crawls using all its legs. However, army crawling is when only the front two legs are used and the belly is dragged along the ground like a human baby.

However, they are often assumed to be the same, but they are not. To make things even more confusing cats on heat may low crawl, or army crawl as a symptom.

What does it mean when a cat crawls?

When a cat crawls, generally speaking, it usually means they are about to attack. Or, playfighting. Kittens may do this to be playful. However, adult cats are just as likely to be seen doing it during playtime, or if they are hunting.

For example, they may see a bird outside and slowly crawl towards it, so it doesn’t;t get detected, before pouncing and attacking their prey.

Why is my cat crawling low?

Your cat may low crawl for several reasons. The most common ones are it is in heat or it is preparing to attack. If it’s the latter, it could be playing or actually plotting an attack on its prey. Regarding the former, in heat, this is a known action for females in heat and should not be confused with another problem.

However, when a female cat is in heat, and slow crawling and moaning it can be distressing for a new owner that hasn’t witnessed this before. So, if in doubt and concerned it could be something else, then consult your vet to be sure.

Why is my cat crawling all over me?

Why does my cat ask to be picked up?

A cat in its owner’s arms.

Your cat may be crawling all over you for the same reasons it kneads. One theory for this kneading and crawling on you is a form of comfort for the cat and is believed to relate to the cat’s upbringing with its mother. It forms some level of comfort and bonding with its owner.

The reality is, there is no hard evidence or studies to prove this. It is based on experiences and observations by cat owners.

Why do cats crawl when they feel unsafe?

A cat may crawl, or huddle up when it feels unsafe to make itself feel secure and go undetected. In most cases, when they feel unsafe, they will hideaway. But, in the absence of this, they may opt to crawl.

You may notice this happen when your cat comes into contact with a new pet that it feels threatened by, such as another cat, or dog, for example.

How can you leash train your cat to avoid its army crawling?

If you are sure your cat is army crawling because it is unsure or adjusting to a new cat harness. Here are some tips to help you to get it to relax and get used to it:

01. Familiarization

One of the mistakes cat owners make is trying to take the cat out right after attaching the harness. First, you need to let the cat get used to the harness first. And, no I don’t mean put it on first, just let the cat see the harness and leash first. Let it smell it, place it in its cat bed area, etc.

Following that, you will need to let it feel comfortable with it on. But just attach the harness and see how it responds. Resistance or army crawling? Take a step back, reward it with some cat treats (Click here to see the price, on Amazon #Ad) and take a break.

02. Start indoors

Once your cat is fine with the harness you need to start trying to walk it. But not directly outside. just start inside to see how it responds.

03. Promote to outdoors

Once it’s familiar with the harness and responding OK indoors you can consider trying it outdoors. But, don’t go straight out for a 5-mile hike! Take it slow, and find a quiet area with no other people around. Ideally, your back garden if you have one.

Only once your cat seems comfortable at all of these stages can you even consider taking it out fully. And, by this stage, there should be no army crawling or messing around.

Lindsey Browlingdon