When I started animating a cat’s gait for my demo reel, I faced a problem of finding a pattern in the cat’s walking cycle. I examined some tutorials but got even more confused with the complexity of such a regular movement. Thus, I decided to write down my own observations that I’ve learned during the animating process.

So, here are facts about cat’s walking cycle:

1. A cat never stands on its 4 legs simultaneously;

2. When a front leg contacts the ground, an opposite back leg lifts (say, if the front right leg contacts the ground, then the back left leg lifts);

3. Back legs contact the ground before front legs (the back left/right leg contacts the ground first, then the front left/right leg contacts the ground);

4. A tail starts wiggling towards a lifted back leg, while the tip follows an opposite direction (towards the back leg which stays in contact with the ground).

After I sumbitted my finished animation to Professional Animators group at Facebook, I got a lot of likes and comments from people telling me that they like my work. Along with appreciation, I got one feedback which pointed out one very important nuanse that I didn’t notice on the video reference. As a result, I allowed inaccuracy occured in my animation (which is not critical but I like to move towards perfectionism). I consider this nuase so important that I decided to update this article with additional, the 5th, principle:

5. A cat puts the back paw where it leaves the front paw.


My approach for animating a cat’s gait was the following:

★ for key poses I focused on the movements of the front legs: 

key 1 – front right up (back right and left are in contact with the ground); 

      – key 2 – front right contacts the ground (back right is in contact with the ground, back left is lifting); 

      – key 3 – front left up (back left and right are in contact with the ground);

      – key 4 – front left contacts the ground (back left is in contact with the ground, back right is lifting);

★ in pass poses one-side front and back, either left or right, legs are lifted up simultaneously.

Hopefully, my notes sparked your curiosity and desire to watch how your cat walks more precisely. And if you’re an animator, I really hope this information was useful for you! ❤️

Feel free to use this material for educational purposes under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For other uses please contact me through email business[at]nadinekovalchuk.art or contact form.

If you find inaccuracy or if you have a question, please let me know in comments or email at website[at]nadinekovalchuk.art

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