Does your cat suddenly roll, run around the house or get a burst of energy at night and start making loud meows? Maybe he or she starts rolling on the ground, stops eating, or brings dead mice to the front door. This weird behavior might catch you by surprise, but there’s no need to cower in fear of your feline friend.
A lot of cat’s erratic behavior can be explained.
In this article, we’ll explain some of the reasons for cat’s erratic behavior:
- Predatory instincts
- Changes in cognitive function
- Nocturnal instincts
- Feline hyperesthesia syndrome
- Other reasons
Now let’s talk about why your cat is acting weird.
Why Is My Cat Acting Weird?
Cats are natural predators. You can see the evidence of this when your precious kitty brings a dead (and unappreciated) mouse to your doorstep.
Researchers at the University of Georgia fitted small cameras on 55 cats in Atlanta and studied them for 37 hours. Here’s what they found out:
- 44% of the cats hunted wildlife with their main prey being small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates
- Hunting cats captured two prey during the seven days they roamed
- 85% of the captures was witnessed during the warm season
- Young cats caught more prey than older cats
According to this study, cats are indeed hunting animals and they’ll exhibit the same behavior even when they’re domesticated.
To divert their energy from their predatory hunting behavior, consider getting them interactive toys. These include items such as plush mice, food puzzles, laser pointers and feather wands.
The goal here is to help your cat feel active and get rid of some excess energy that he or she has stored up.
Changes in Cognitive Function
As your cat ages, they’re likely to experience changes in their cognitive function. Also known as feline cognitive dysfunction, it affects 55% of cats aged 11-15 years and 80% of those aged 16-20 years.
Their memory, ability to learn, awareness, sight and hearing perception deteriorate. As a result, your feline may experience disruptions in sleeping patterns, reduced activity, increased anxiety, and may have a tendency to react aggressively.
(my aging cat takes out her aggression on older people. We always have to watch her around my grandparents)
Such aggression is often interpreted as weird behavior. It’s important to understand the changes that your pet is undergoing. This way, you can identify the best approach to address their behavioral problems.
Pet owners should consider discussing the changes with their vet especially when the cat exhibits other symptoms like:
- Inability to recognize you and other familiar people
- Excretes outside the litter box or around sleeping areas
- Getting lost in familiar locations
- Becoming less interested in interacting or greeting people
- Eating less, exploring less and responding less to things around her
Many changes might not represent anything dangerous per se, but they can be indicators that an aging cat is changing. The changes listed above (or any other drastic changes) warrant a vet visit. They could represent more harmful changes with your kitty.
Some cats are more active at night than during the day. If your feline isn’t getting enough exercise during the day, they’re likely to act up at night.
Given that most cats spend days alone indoors, it’s not unusual for them to become more active when you get home. Chances are, they’re want to play with you every opportunity they get.
As explained in this article, some cats display crepuscular behavior. What this means is that they’re active mainly at dawn and dusk.
If you have a crepuscular cat, they’ll wake you up very early in the morning. Often, they’ll do this because they associate waking up with getting food. Since they don’t want to pass up this opportunity, they’ll prefer to rob you of your sleep.
Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome
Also known as rolling skin disease, it is a rare condition that causes episodes of agitation and self-mutilation. Some experts believe the disease is a form of epilepsy in cats.
During an episode, the cat shows signs such as twitching, skin rolling, self-directed pouncing, compulsive self-grooming and aggressive behavior like attacking or biting its tail.The cat may also increase activity, make loud noises and have his or her pupils dilate.
Although the cause of this condition remains unknown, some experts believe it’s a behavioral disorder triggered by trauma. Cats with feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) are less submissive and more dominating, which explains their weird behavior.
It is important to have a vet check your pet if it they’re exhibiting similar actions. The vet may prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication or sedatives.
Fleas also cause erratic cat behavior. Flea bites are itchy and sometimes trigger allergic reactions in sensitive breeds. The most obvious signs that your cat has fleas is persistent scratching, which can develop into bald patches on the cat’s coat. Your cat may also develop redness and sore areas on the skin.
While grooming your cat regularly does not prevent the parasites from attacking, it does give you an opportunity to inspect their fur.
Also, knowing when they’re likely to pounce on your cat helps you prepare adequately. For example, fleas thrive in warm, humid environment; hence they’re likely to infest your furball during the late summer season.
Apart from regular grooming you can apply a range of treatments on your cat’s skin to target the areas where fleas may thrive. These treatments include:
- Powders: It remains on the cat’s coat for two to three hours to kill any fleas. Ensure your cat does not inhale or swallow it as it can trigger allergies.
- Collars: This treatment is ideal for treating cats with a flea infestation around the neck.
The new generation of cat flea collars disperse the active ingredient to the body instead of sitting on the cat’s neck. They are designed to have a quick-release mechanism, which helps prevent irritation and/or loss of hair.
- Spot-on treatments: These are the simplest forms of cat flea prevention. The treatment comprises a small vial of liquid that’s applied to the back of the cat’s neck. It helps to kill the fleas and prevent the development of eggs.
- Medication and injections: Cat fleas are also treated orally using liquid medication and tablets. When absorbed by the cat’s body, they sterilize the fleas when they bite. Injections should be accompanied by topical treatment to get rid of existing cat fleas
There are other reasons why cats act strangely:
- Head-butting and rubbing: Most people interpret head-butts as a way of starting a fight. But if your cat headbutts you, they’re just saying hello. They’re doing so because they trust you and feel safe with you. An alternative to this is when your cat rubs his or her whiskers against you. Your little critter wants some love 🙂
- Lying around your stuff: Cats will lie on your book, laptop or other device to try and draw your attention
- Communicating with their eyes: When your cat stares at you, they are trying to get your attention. However if their stare is intense and fixated, this may be an act of aggression.
- Kneading with their paws: Cat behaviorists believe that these creatures engage in this behavior when they’re happy, content or when they want to relieve stress.
- Sniffing your face: This mainly happens to individuals who have unique scents. As such, cats will sniff your face to get a whiff of your scent.
- Rolling: This is your feline’s way of stretching his/her muscles. It could also be an indication that they’re inviting your or their playmates to play. Cats also roll when they are marking their territories.
- Chattering of teeth: When your cat chats their teeth, they’re probably getting ready to pursue or attack their prey
- Chewing on things: it may be a sign of a condition called pica. The condition is caused by nutritional problems, stress or anxiety.
- Attacking your feet: They want to play or practice jumps and pounces
- Head pressing: Your cat may press their head on the wall or other hard surface and make strange vocal sounds. This could indicate that there’s a problem with their nervous system which could stem from a growth tumor or a traumatic event.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what is causing your cat to behave in a peculiar manner. Cats, unlike dogs, are known for their emotional outbursts and aloof behavior which makes them a tad difficult to interpret.
The best thing you can do is learn your cat’s body language. Not only will this strengthen your bond but it will also help you use a more effective approach when responding to their needs.
Observe their behavior as keenly as you can. Also, take notes of the existing conditions and environment when they’re acting crazy. Pay attention to their vocalizations, body language, how they behave and the time of day they exhibit unusual behavior.
Making routine observations will help you identify triggers of your cat’s erratic behavior. Also, you get to determine what is normal and unusual behavior and if your cat needs professional help. Cats with FHS, for instance, may need a sedative administered to calm them down.