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Why Is Your Cat Crossing Their Front Paws? 5 Possible Reasons

Beth Crane

By Beth Crane

white maine coon cat crossing its front paws

Cats are intriguing and mysterious at the best of times, but sometimes they behave in ways that seem almost human. For example, if you’ve seen a cat cross its front paws and stare at you, you might feel like they’re preparing to quiz or judge you! But what’s the real reason some cats cross their paws? They may just be really comfortable, however, there are a few reasons your cat might be crossing their paws, which we’ll explore further below!

Why Is Your Cat Crossing Their Front Paws?

1. They’re Relaxing

Cats that are relaxed, happy, and ready to sleep will sometimes cross their paws in front of them. This posture can be seen in cats that don’t want to lie down completely but still want to relax and unwind, and crossing their paws in front of them can result in getting into a position perfect for relaxing.

This position is great for cats that want to remain alert and monitor their surroundings without standing. It can either be a deliberate crossing of their paws or purely accidental. Either way, it’s super cute!

Other signs your cat is relaxed include:
  • They stretch out and have a snooze
  • They purr softly and contentedly
  • Their ears are in a relaxed position, not held forward or back on their heads
cat sleeping with paws crossed
Image Credit: InstagramFOTOGRAFIN_Pixabay

2. They Trust You

Cats that feel safe and secure in their surroundings might cross their paws in front of them and sleep, as it helps them unwind. A cat that is stressed or doesn’t feel safe won’t be able to relax and will often sit upright and alert.1 A happy cat that trusts its environment and the people around it will often lounge luxuriously, sometimes with its paws crossed nonchalantly in front of them. Crossed feet can be trickier to jump up on if a cat needs to escape or run, so it’s a sure sign of trust if your cat is cross-legged in this way.

Other signs your cat is trusting of you include:
  • They close their eyes slowly at you (the “slow-blink”)
  • They roll onto their backs and show their bellies
  • They sleep around or next to you

3. They’re Really Comfortable

If your cat is lying on their front or side and their paws are crossed, it’s a very comfortable position. Some cats might cross their paws because they like the feeling of it or because they can take the pressure off their elbows. Cats that cross their feet might also rest their chin on the top paw as it’s a fluffy and warm headrest, making a comfy position much more enjoyable.

orange tabby American bobtail sleeping
Image Credit: Angie Selman, Shutterstock

4. They’re Maine Coons

Maine Coons are the large and in-charge cats native to Maine, where they reside as the state cat. For reasons not currently well known, Maine Coons are known for crossing their big fluffy paws in front of them. Some speculate this is because Maine Coons are very trusting of their owners and are more likely to be completely relaxed around them, but this little quirk of personality isn’t as well explained as it is documented.

5. They Have a Neurological Problem

Finally, if your cat is walking around and its paws keep crossing in an uncoordinated, wobbling way, it might have a neurological problem. This is called ataxia (sensory ataxia, to be precise), which is unfortunately caused by pressure on the spinal cord from tumors, slipped disks, or problems with the vestibular system.

Other causes of sensory ataxia can include:
  • Cerebellar issues
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Other lesions on the spinal cord

The fact that your cat is walking with its paws crossed this way doesn’t always mean there’s an issue with their spine or brain, but it’s essential to get them checked out by the vet. There are usually other signs something is wrong in addition to walking with its front paws crossed, which can include:

  • Knuckling of the toes
  • Wobbling gait
  • Drowsiness
  • Head tilt (common in Vestibular Syndrome)
grey cat sleeping on couch
Image Credit: Vidar H. Andersen, Pixabay

Why Does My Cat Cross Their Paws Over Their Face?

Cats often cross their paws over their faces in the cutest way when lying down, and it can follow a long stretch of the front legs. Cats will cover their faces with their paws for a few reasons. The first of which is so they can block sunlight from hitting their faces. If a cat is trying to nap in a ray of sunlight, the sun can annoy them and prevent them from sleeping.

Covering their eyes with their paws keeps the light from their faces and can help them sleep. This is similar to how people use eye masks! Another reason is to keep their noses warm in cold weather. Most cats will curl up and use their tails to cover their faces in the cold (Maine Coons are known for this behavior, too), but cats that may not have the longest tail can substitute them with their paws. Paws are warm and often have tufts of fur between the toes, so they are effective at keeping noses and mouths toasty.

Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Back Legs Stretched Out?

Some cats love to sleep or lie on their fronts with their back legs splayed out behind them (commonly referred to as “splooting”), which they do purely because it’s comfortable. A cat that is content, comfortable, and trusting of its surroundings will stretch out with its legs plopped on the floor behind them.

It can also help them to cool off if they’re too warm, as their whole fronts are flattened onto the cool ground. This can help to draw some of the heat from their bodies and help them cool down.

Cat sleeping stretched out - Jumpstory
Image Credit: Jumpstory


Cats that cross their paws are likely doing so because they’re comfortable, relaxed, and trusting of their humans and home. The position is more difficult to jump up from should they need to get away quickly, so a cat with its legs crossed shows they are content and willing to relax because they trust the people around them. Some cats are more likely to adopt this position than others (such as Maine Coons), but some cats might not even mean to cross their paws. Most felines fall into the position and stay there just because of how comfortable it is!

Featured Image Credit: Kreminska, Shutterstock

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