All cats run around like maniacs, darting across the room, from time to time. Even the most gentle domestic cat will appear to go crazy occasionally, running around frantically and clawing everything in sight. Referred to as ‘midnight crazies,’ it is most likely to happen during the nighttime hours.
The cause of sudden frenzied activity is your cat’s instinctive desire to stalk, hunt, and gather prey. If prey does not exist, cats will make your favorite rug come alive for their entertainment. It’s most likely to take place if your cat has done little during the day. There may also be an underlying medical reason, such as hyperesthesia syndrome, for this behavior.
It is common for a cat to begin running laps around a living room, climbing on sofas, and tearing curtains for no discernible reason. Because the desire to “get up and go” is so strong, cats will instinctively react whether a worthwhile reason has been presented or not.
While some cats may begin to act like maniacs due to a medical condition, having a cat running around frantically is extremely common. Unless your cat has reached senior status and is troubled by arthritis and joint pain, you should expect to witness episodes of craziness from your cat regularly.
In this article, we will unlock the reasons why cats are naturally hyperactive, how to calm them, and how a condition known as hyperesthesia syndrome can sometimes play a role in frantic behavior.
Table of Contents:
Why are Cats so Hyperactive?
A natural desire to burn off energy plays a significant role in hyperactivity. In addition to their instincts to stalk and hunt, cats are wired for movement. If your cat lives a quiet lifestyle indoors, there will be periods of time when your cat will have to blow off steam.
Why is my cat freaking out for no reason? It is because the desire to act crazy has gotten too strong. These periods are often referred to as “zoomies” or energy releases. Sort of like trying to keep a racehorse in a stall, a cat can only be a well-behaved saint for so long. Although most cats are trained enough to let off steam without breaking items, some will go completely mad during periods of energy release.
If you have ever heard the complaints of a cat owner detailing why their cat is too much to handle, they are likely referencing periods of hyperactivity that have reached a crisis point.
1) What is Crazy Time?
The Huffington Post has addressed the issue by referencing an informative and humorous video on the matter. In short, crazy time is when a cat cuts loose and begins running around the house, climbing walls, crawling on bookshelves, etc.
With the help of a cat behaviorist, crazy time is traced back to mother nature and a cat’s rite of passage to act up.
When some cats owners say, “my cat is going psycho” it often stems from the quick episodes of activity rather than the behavior as a whole. Because it is usually hallmarked by going from 0 to 60 in seconds, it can become distracting and anxiety-inducing for an owner.
One of the more interesting experiences is that people do not often notice maniac-type episodes when their cat is outdoors. Easily glossed over by the environment itself, many owners are far more keen to avoid wild behavior when the activity is confined to the comfort of home.
Domestic cats that are no longer allowed outdoors (for various legitimate reasons) are some of the biggest crazy time offenders because they lack a more primal location to release their energy. The ceiling fan can replace the oak tree if you are not careful.
2) Why Are Cats So Active at Night?
Why does my cat run around the house at night? Felines are active at night because the night hours are the best times for hunting and gathering. By design, cats take several “cat naps” during the day and typically sleep a total of 16-18 hours per day. However, a cat’s relationship with its owner can clash because the night time is ideal for an adventure.
This explains why your cat is perhaps scratching at your door, crawling in your bed, and meowing all night while you are attempting to sleep. If “crazy time” occurs during the overnight hours, this can result in worn patience, no sleep, and the need for training.
Once your cat adapts to your routine, the overnight hours will become more peaceful. However, this is usually a task that requires time and understanding.
Here are some tips to keep your cat from running around like a maniac at night…
- Keep your furry pal awake during the day. Through positive engagement and stimulation, you can keep your cat’s attention. Without the benefit of a few naps, they will be more likely to sleep at night.
- Engage in play with your cat a few hours before you turn in for the night. If your cat is exhausted, it will be more inclined to sleep.
- Prepare your cat a meal before you go to bed. Similar to a person, a big meal can bring out the desire to sleep.
- PetMD notes the importance of keeping harmony in the household. While it is in a cat’s natural behavior to act crazy once in a while, that desire can become magnified if the environment is unstable. If you have a multi-cat household, it is imperative to restore order within the home as feline rivalries can arise quite fast.
How to Calm and Relax Cats?
If your cat begins to stir and enter a frantic mood, attempt to distract them with engagement. By comparison, positive interaction is more calming and relaxing than harmful aggression and “crazy time” behavior.
The primary issue that most cat owners have about feline “freakouts” is not that they occur but rather what each occurrence brings. Because the outbursts are often unhinged, they can result in destructive behavior. If you can channel your cat’s frantic behavior into a specific task, each episode will be more manageable by default.
Engaging in a game of capture the string is much better than watching your cat climb your curtains at your expense.
In the same way that you would teach a child to focus their aggression on something positive, you can provide a safe outlet for your cat to blow off steam that does not involve damage to your property.
Importance of Petting Sessions
Petting a cat can help to redirect certain impulses. This can be beneficial for everyone involved. While there is no right way to prevent zoomies, freakouts, crazy time, etc., you can curb it through compassionate behavior.
Cats love to relax, and contrary to popular belief, most cats do enjoy human attention and affection. If your cat crawls up on the sofa, you can take the opportunity to engage in a petting session. When cats are both mentally and physically calm, they are less inclined to have a manic attack.
Similar to a small child, cats often engage in mischief because there is nothing better to do. A lack of enjoyment gives them the opportunity to go crazy. Will your cat be willing to sacrifice a good petting session to take laps around your house? Probably not if your cat has lived in your care for several years.
Many cat owners learn they can train their cats by being themselves. As time passes, a cat will slowly but surely take on the personality of its owner. While this is often discussed concerning dogs, cats can become a byproduct of their owners. If you are calm and peaceful, then your cat will begin to mimic you while also understanding the boundaries of what is (and is not) acceptable behavior.
What is Hyperesthesia Syndrome?
Somewhat of a mysterious condition, hyperesthesia syndrome occurs when a cat begins to run wild, scratch itself vigorously, and display momentary hysteria. Twitching of the tail and dilated pupils are also known symptoms. Often occurring for less than 60 seconds, the entire behavior sequence usually ends as quickly as it begins.
Experts in the field of feline medicine often point to existing back pain and pressure on the lumbar region as a primary trigger of this syndrome, but nothing is 100% conclusive.
Consult your vet if you feel that your cat’s behavior is beyond the bounds of normalcy. If your pet has been acting strange and displaying quick outbursts of madness followed by an immediate calm demeanor, something mental and physical could be responsible.