Cats are most often thought of as highly coordinated animals that can jump and balance on anything and always land on their feet. They’re known for having a sharp sense of sight and pay close attention to details. But this isn’t the case 100% of the time, and kittens especially will have their days.
So, why does my kitten run into things? Kittens tend to be more uncoordinated and prone to bumping into things than adult cats. However, extreme clumsiness, constant collisions, or imbalance could all be signs that your kitten is suffering from something more serious.
In this article, we’ll discuss normal kitten clumsiness and how concerned you should be about it. We’ll also give you a thorough overview of the various vision problems, infections, and neurological disorders that could be causing your kitten to bump into everything.
Normal Kitten Clumsiness
It takes several weeks for kittens to become fully coordinated, leading to a lot of silly clumsiness, especially during their first months. They are also super playful during this time of their lives and can get so caught up in running around having fun that they just don’t pay attention to where they’re going.
It’s not that unusual for a kitten to run into things, especially if it’s under 14 weeks old.
Kittens’ coordination is still in the development stages up until they are about eight weeks old. At four weeks, they will already be exploring and learning to play, despite their lack of coordination, which can lead to some bumps and falls.
By six weeks old, their coordination for quieter activities like grooming, is usually about the same as an adult cat’s, but it takes a couple more weeks for them to become fully coordinated in active play and agility.
Additionally, kittens continue to be more active and playful than an adult cat up until they are at least 14 weeks old. Lots of hilarious hijinks take place during this stage of their development. This can lead to more collisions simply because they are still trying new things and can get carried away in their excitement.
The Cat Zoomies
Every once in a while, a kitten will come down with the “zoomies”—also called “cat crazies.” This is just a sudden burst of high energy that can last for several minutes. Your cat may dash in circles or from room to room, leap onto the furniture, and pounce on anything that moves. In the course of this crazy circuit, a kitten may lose control and run into something.
The zoomies are a result of pent-up energy or excitement. Although any cat may exhibit them, this behavior is more common in young cats and kittens.
There’s nothing wrong with a cat burning energy this way, but if it happens too frequently, it may be a sign that your kitten is suffering from anxiety, is too often alone, needs a more spacious area to spend its time, or could use more interactive play.
Checking for Injuries
Especially in the weeks before your kitten’s coordination has completely developed, it’s important to check your kitten for injuries after any particularly hard bumps or collisions. Head trauma is an especially dangerous injury that may vary in its symptoms. If you notice any symptoms of head trauma, you should get your kitten to the vet. These symptoms may include the following.
- Strange/abnormal behavior
- Head tilt
- Pupils of different sizes
- Stiff legs
- Rapid/abnormal eye movement
- Bleeding from nose or ears
- Loss of consciousness
Blindness or Poor Eyesight
Another reason a kitten may run into things could be that it is suffering from blindness, crossed eyes, or generally poor eyesight. You can test your kitten’s eyesight with a simple game. Choose a toy that is completely silent (like a ribbon) and try to get your kitten to chase it while it’s in a playful mood.
If your kitten does not seem to be able to see or follow the ribbon, it may have an eyesight issue.
Crossed Eyes (Strabismus)
This is one of the more obvious vision problems that affects cats. Either one or both of your cat’s eyes will be visibly crossed, although some cases are more noticeable than others. This is not a disease.
It can be a congenital defect, a result of scar tissue, or a reflection of an abnormality in the central nervous system. Most kittens can function normally with crossed eyes, but they may be more prone to running into things.
Kittens can also suffer loss of sight due to eye infections, cancer, trauma to the eye, and various other diseases and syndromes. If your kitten seems to be suffering vision problems, it’s always best to schedule a checkup with your vet. Besides apparent loss of vision, symptoms of eye issues include:
- Bulging, shrunken, or collapsed eyeball
- Swelling of eyelid or around the eye
- Bleeding in or around the eye
- Pus in or around the eye
- Inflammation of the eye or surrounding tissue
- Inability to close or open eyes normally
- Discharge from eye
- Cloudy or discolored eye
Balance Issues and Neurological Disease
Finally, a kitten may run into things because of issues with balance or an inability to walk in a straight line. Problems like this indicate a condition beyond the scope of normal coordination development and should lead to a vet consultation.
A kitten that is extremely clumsy and often runs into things, stumbles, falls, or walks in circles is likely showing symptoms of a more serious underlying problem like an infection, a brain disorder, or a neurological disease.
Inner Ear Infection
Inner ear infections are one cause of clumsiness and balance issues in kittens. They can be caused by a lot of different things, including ear mites, overzealous ear cleaning, an abnormally shaped inner ear, or something like a grass seed finding its way into the ear canal. Symptoms are not always immediate but may include the following.
- Reluctance to chew/apparent mouth pain
- Difficulty staying upright
- Shaking of the head
- Head tilt
- Inability to walk properly
- Turning in circles
- Leaning or falling
- Loss of hearing
If left untreated, an inner ear infection may damage a kitten’s facial nerve, causing further issues like drooling, difficulty eating, drooping eyelids, dry eyes, and eye discharge, to name a few.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a brain disorder that develops before kittens are born. It can be caused by a virus, malnourishment while the mother is pregnant, or physical trauma. It affects the area of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination, so a kitten with this disorder may appear especially clumsy. It may have trouble with walking, balancing, and falling.
This condition usually shows up early in a kitten’s development, about the same time it is learning to walk. However, it can occasionally show up later and may become more noticeable when a kitten is most active and agile at eight weeks or older.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is not painful or life threatening. It’s also not treatable. However, as long as a kitten is well cared for in a safe, indoor environment it can live a long and happy life despite the disorder.
Other Brain Diseases and Disorders
Although cerebellar hypoplasia is one of the most common causes of incoordination in cats, and is untreatable and nonfatal, there are plenty of other causes of incoordination that are not as benign.
Some of these diseases and disorders are treatable and may grow worse without treatment. It’s best to consult a vet if your kitten seems to be constantly running into things or falling, struggles with balance or shows other signs of unusual clumsiness in order to rule out more dangerous neurological disorders, brain diseases, and other ailments.
In conclusion, all kittens go through a stage of clumsiness that can cause them to bump into things now and then. Even after their coordination has fully developed around eight weeks old, young cats are very playful and full of high spirits. If they are having an especially good time or get caught up in the cat zoomies, an occasional collision is not unusual.
Abnormal clumsiness, on the other hand, could be a symptom of poor eyesight and/or an underlying infection, disease, or neurological disorder. While not all of these ailments are treatable, it’s important to see a vet and make sure your kitten is in good health before dismissing its clumsy behavior as nothing to be concerned about.
Kittens with crossed eyes, cerebellar hypoplasia or similar disorders may struggle with coordination throughout their lives. However, they can still live happy, full lives if general precautions are taken to keep them safe and make simple activities as easy as possible for them.