"Crawl" has 2 meanings:

1-to move along on your hands and knees with your body close to the ground

The baby crawled across the floor.

2- if an insect crawls, it moves using its legs

There’s a bug crawling up your leg.

So, given this sentence "a cat is crawling".

it could mean the cat is moving with its belly in contact with the floor (meaning 1)

I am not sure if we can apply the meaning 2 to "cats, pigs, bees or lizards" as the meaning 2 is for "insects". Cats or pigs are not insects. But what about "bees or lizards"? Are they insects?

Does "a cat/ a bee/ a lizard is crawling" mean "a cat/ a bee/ a lizard is moving using its legs"?

If it does not, how do you say "a cat/ a bee/ a lizard is moving using its legs"? For example, "a cat/ a bee/ a lizard is walking"

  • 1
    Why don't you go look these up before posting? A baby crawls on its hands and knees. And it not using its feet to do so.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 14 at 14:02
  • Why do you claim crawl has 2 meanings when the dictionary lists 7? Did you not bother reading any further?
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 14 at 16:55
  • Traffic can crawl. Skin can crawl. Worms crawl in, crawl out. A tear can crawl.
    – TimR
    Commented May 14 at 23:39

4 Answers 4


A bee is an insect, a lizard is a reptile (which you could have looked up for yourself). We often describe such creatures as 'crawling' rather than 'walking' simply because their bodies are close to the ground (or other surface). In fact, reptile comes from a Latin word meaning 'crawl'.

A cat is crawling when it creeps along with its body close to the ground, for instance hunting mice. Otherwise, it walks.

  • Yes, well said.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 14 at 19:47

A cat crawling usually means the cat is actually moving slowly

(intransitive verb) To move slowly on the hands and knees or by dragging the body along the ground; creep.

(intransitive verb) To advance slowly, feebly, laboriously, or with frequent stops.

Source: Wordnik

  • A cat is crawling just means low to the ground. But it is not considered walking.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 14 at 14:03
  • I changed "walking" to "moving" in the edit @Lambie, and can't crawl mean moving slowly? I searched it on merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crawl and got the same result
    – Amirreza
    Commented May 14 at 14:09
  • 2
    A crawling cat is moving slowly but the main feature of crawl + cat means close to the ground. It is not walking normally on its legs.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 14 at 14:10

Depending on context this could also be referring to a bulldozer, which are often referred to as a "cat" — short for Caterpillar, one of the major brands, regardless of manufacturer.

I (a western an AME speaker) have owned a couple bulldozers in the past and would say they were crawling when moving particularly slowly.


It depends on exactly what you're trying to describe. When cats stalk their prey, they do in fact move with their bellies closer to the ground compared to their regular walk. If you said a cat stalked over to the bushes, this emphasizes the stealthy bit, but people who know cats also know that the cat would be moving slowly and close to the ground.

If you said a cat was crawling, that doesn't describe a standard movement for cats. If you had meant something like stalking, then people might or might not be able to infer what you meant.

Say you were trying to say a cat was walking at normal speed with its normal gait. You'd just say walking. They can also run. Now, horses trot, which has a gait pattern different from their normal walk and implies (I think) a medium speed. If you said a cat was trotting over, I'd probably infer that the cat was walking a bit faster than normal but not running. Other standard words for horse gaits would typically not be used for cats by native English speakers, but we would probably infer that a cat galloping over to you was running full tilt, probably very happy to see you. It appears that amble is a group of horse gaits that are a bit faster than their normal walk, but the dictionary definition is a slow, relaxed pace walk. If you said a cat was ambling over to you, I'd infer the latter.

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