Why Do Cats Grab Your Leg?

Why Do Cats Grab Your Leg?

Are you often “ambushed” by your playful kitty while walking down the stairs or as you pass by a dark nook in your kitchen? Many cat owners are appalled when their pets suddenly grab their legs. Some cats even go further by biting their owner’s feet. In this article, let us try to find out why cats do this and how you can stop them. 

Why do cats grab your leg?

Cats may grab your leg because of any of the following reasons:

1. They are bored. 

Cats may grab your leg unexpectedly because they have nothing else to do and they are extremely bored. This could mean they are inviting you to play with them. 

2. They want to grab your attention. 

Another reason why cats tend to grab your leg is to get your attention. It could be that your cat has been meowing and purring for a few minutes already to let you know that she is hungry. However, you did not notice her because you were engrossed in some household chores. So, they grab your leg as you pass by since it will surely elicit a reaction and get your attention.

It could also be a symptom of separation anxiety since some cats tend to become too attached to their owners. 

3. It is instinctive. 

Cats lived as hunters when they were in the wild. Domesticated cats still retain many of these original traits and instincts, such as prowling and hunting. Cats instinctively grab your leg to mimic and practice their hunting skills. It is not a cause for alarm since it is not a sign of aggressive behavior. However, if you notice your cat hissing and digging her claws into your skin every time she grabs your leg, do something about it promptly. Take your cat to the vet or a cat behaviorist as she may be having some behavioral issues.  

4. They are anxious, afraid or agitated. 

Cats may also grab your leg because something triggered them to become anxious, scared, or agitated. This usually happens when they see another cat, or other pets like dogs outside. They may grab your leg to let you know that there is something approaching.  

5. They think you are playing with them. 

Cats can sometimes mistake their owner’s actions for something else. You may just be walking past, but your cat sees your dangling shoelaces as an invitation for playtime. They may think that you are purposely doing that to entice them to play with you, so they will grab your leg.

Other causes that may provoke your cats to grab or bite your legs may include the following:

  • Overexcitement  
  • As a means of social interaction 
  • To demonstrate their affection
  • To show fear or distrust
  • As a sign of vulnerability 

How can you stop your cat from grabbing your leg?

Provide enrichment for your cat. 

Boredom and anxiety can lead cats to act up and exhibit weird behavior. To address this, provide lots of enrichment for your cats, such as interactive toys and scratching posts. Provide climbing spots like cat shelves and cat trees. Hiding places like cardboard boxes are also ideal so they can replicate hunting skills without annoying you. 

Schedule quality playtime. 

Cats grab their owner’s legs because they want attention, so make sure that you allot some quality playtime for your kitty. Spend at least 25 minutes with your cat each day for some quality bonding time. 

Get another cat.

You may consider getting another cat so your cat will have a playtime buddy and constant companion if you are not at home. Make sure that their personalities match, and see to it that they are properly introduced to each other.

Provide preventive medicine. 

Cats that grab your leg or exhibit other weird behavior, like biting your leg and becoming aggressive, could be indicative of behavioral problems.  Consult your vet on the right preventive medicine for them. Make sure to keep your cat healthy by making sure that her vaccinations and deworming sessions are up-to-date.

Why does my cat swipe at me when I walk by?

Your cat may swipe at you when you walk by because of human-directed aggression. However, it could also mean that your cat is suffering from a medical condition if the aggression is recent. If this is so, take her to the vet since it merits urgent veterinary attention. 


Cats are playful pets, but they can demonstrate weird behavior such as grabbing your leg. They may do this to catch your attention or to invite you to play with them. They may also grab your leg because they are anxious or agitated, and it is instinctive to them.

Image: istockphoto.com / taniche