My Cat Is Running Around Like a Maniac
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While recording it can make good social media fodder, having your cat round around the house like crazy is often disruptive. They can knock over items, disturb our sleep or generally cause a stressful atmosphere. More importantly, it can make us worry about the wellbeing of our cat. These sudden attacks of mania happen to most cats when they are young, but they usually lessen as they get older. Whatever age of the cat, they are an example of FRAP (frenetic random activity period), although they are commonly known as ‘zoomies’.
If your cat is running around like a maniac, it is important to understand why. In many cases, they will be aberrant and will not cause the cat any harm. AnimalWised explains more about zoomies in cats and highlights when they might be a problem.
Why is my cat running around like crazy?
We have already explained that these frenetic bursts of energy are a form of FRAP, known as zoomies in cats. While this explains what they are, it doesn't explain why they happen. Here are the most common reasons why your cat is running around the house like maniac:
Frenetic random activity periods have been widely documented and studied in dogs. Although there is much anecdotal evidence of zoomies in cats, they are not as well documented in scientific research.
This behavior is often considered totally normal in cats. You should not worry if your cat starts running like crazy from time to time. They are likely releasing excess energy which often happens especially in cats which do not have outdoor access. They often involve actions which are expressions of cat hunting behaviors such as grabbing your ankles or jumping up onto shafts of light.
In these non-pathological causes of FRAP in cats, they usually only last for a very short period of time. They are common in kittens which generally have more energy to spend and they will calm down soon enough. Once they stop, they often retire for a rest as the energy is not depleted.
It is also possible that you have observed your cat run away after using their litter box. This curious behavior does not occur in all cats, but it is common among certain felines. It is considered a response to the instinct to move away as quickly as possible from the place where they urinate or defecate so that the smell does not attract predators.
Stress and anxiety
When your cat's zoomies occur often, last a long time or are accompanied by other behavioral or physical symptoms, it is likely they have a health problem. This is especially the case when the cat runs like crazy multiple times a day.
It is possible your cat is naturally hyperactive, but often this restlessness is due to stress and anxiety. When the cat receives trauma, neglect, poor socialization, lives in a stressful environment or experiences any of the causes of stress in cats, it can result in stereotypies. These are behaviors which don't have any obvious purpose, but which the cat enacts repetitively. Running around like crazy is a common one.
While the vast majority of cases will not be due to a physical ailment, it is a possible reason for a cat running around like a maniac. Zoomies can be a symptom of diseases such a hyperthyroidism. This is a common reason why your old cat is running around like crazy, since it is more common in older cats. Its causes are not well known, it is believed to be influenced by factors such as genetics and diet.
Disease which affect hormone production can be the cause for the hyperactivity. For example, a tumor on the adrenal gland can cause overproduction of adrenaline and lead to more cases of FRAP. Some of these diseases are curable, some require symptom management and others may threaten the life of your cat. For this reason, the first thing you need to do if you suspect a pathological cause of zoomies is to go to a veterinarian.
My cat runs around like crazy at night
Cats are naturally crepuscular animals which means their peaks of activity generally occur in the early morning and late evening. However, domestic felines have adapted to the routines and lifestyle of their guardians. The conditions of the environment in which they live such as temperature, daylight hours and outdoor access are also important. For this reason, it is not uncommon for cats to be particularly active at night.
This is especially prevalent in summer. When temperatures get too hot during the day, cats often rest in cool places and wait until nightfall to carry out activities. This includes playing, hunting, interacting with their guardians or simply going out for a walk around the neighborhood. If your cat is an indoor cat, they don't have many toys to play with, they live alone, they are young and they only get to see you at night, it makes sense they may be more active at this time.
If your cat suddenly goes crazy at night and even starts nibbling at you while you sleep, it likely means they need more stimulation at other times of the day. Of course, we first need to rule out a physical health problem, but we explain what you can do if your cat is acting like a maniac too often.
Cat hyperactivity is not the same as aggression, although there is some overlap. Learn more with our article on why a cat attacks you.
What to do if my cat runs like crazy all over the house
As we have explained, FRAPs are usually completely normal behaviors and not pathological. If they don't cause you harm or upset the equilibrium of the home, then you may not need to do anything other than see if they want to play. However, if the reasons for zoomies may be related to stress or boredom, then there are some things we can do when a cat is acting like a maniac:
- Move away dangerous objects: although the appearance of a FRAP is usually completely unexpected, cats usually follow the same path when they are carrying out zoomies. Observe their path and make sure to remove any object that could damage the animal. The feline is running at high speed, so they can can misjudge distances and hit something.
- Do not try to stop the cat: if the environment in which the animal is running is safe, never try to stop the cat in mid-run. These episodes last only a few seconds and it is much better to let the animal stop themselves and calm down naturally.
- Provide environmental and social stimulation: cats are very curious and intelligent animals. They not only need high places t climb to keep an eye on their surroundings, they also need individuals and objects with which they can interact. You may be able to reduce episodes of FRAP by playing more with your cat, introducing interactive toys, provide intelligence games and generally creating cat friendly spaces. To learn how to create the right space for your cat, take a look at our article on feline environmental enrichment.
- Create better routines: if your cat is very active at night, you can try to modify their routines by keeping them more entertained during the day. Set a daytime schedule to play with your cat or do activities they enjoy. You can even try to train them to keep them stimulated. Remember that cats are crepuscular animals, so you cannot pretend that their rhythm of life exactly matches yours.
- Consult a feline ethologist: despite applying all these tips, if your cat continues to have frequent intense attacks of madness, it is time to consult a feline behavior professional. A good ethologist will analyze the behavior of your cat and offer you practical advice tailored to their needs. They will always do so seeking the well-being of the cat and harmony in coexistence.
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