Is your cat doing the midnight crazies at night, charging around the house in a maniacal fashion? Now that our cat is elderly, the midnight crazies have all but disappeared, he is nearly 17 after all.
He did surprise us a few weeks ago with a modified mad dash, so the instinct is still there even though the cat’s body language indicates that everything is slowing down.
What Happens When A Cat Is Acting Crazy At Night?
There are different versions of the midnight crazies. For our cat it was mad dashing about at night, for others, the nocturnal activity, may mean attacking you while you are sleeping.
Believe it or not, this is normal cat behavior and most cat owners will have tales of their cats acting crazy and doing the crazy, crazy dash.
Cats are strange creatures. They’re independent, yet loving. They can be lazy one minute and full of energy the next.
And they have a habit of galloping around the house in the middle of the night, as if they’re possessed.
So why do cats go crazy at night?
There are a few theories
One theory is that cats are naturally crepuscular creatures, meaning that they’re most active at dawn and dusk. Since most people are asleep at those times, cats have the run of the house and can really let loose.
Another theory is that house cats are simply responding to instinctual hunting urges. After all, they are descendants of wild cats, who would spend their nights stalking prey.
Regardless of the reason, cats usually calm down after a few minutes and settle in for a long nap.
If your feline friend is keeping you up at night, just give them a little time and space to run around. If you are being attacked in the night when you are sleeping, that is a problem and you may have to consider encouraging the cat to sleep elsewhere.
In the case of our cat, harking back to youthful times, one minute all would be normal and then… it was as though he had some internal message, saying there was the sale of the century at IKEA and he would take off like a rocket.
Often as a cat becomes older they may exhibit strange behavior but not in this case, our cat was behaving as he always had.
He would gallop along on the wooden boards, skid out the door, sprint around the yard, perhaps up the tree only to return inside gallop around a bit more and then lie down as though nothing had happened and fall asleep with no sign of moving anywhere.
He never appeared stressed or fearful, he was just on a mission.
These antics could happen at any time of the day or night and in fact were often in the middle of the night.
Understanding The Late Night Activity of Cats
The crazy nocturnal antics are characterized by sudden bursts of energy and high-speed dashes. They are a normal part of a cat’s behavior repertoire.
Cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. Their wild ancestors hunted during these times, and those instincts are still present in many domestic cats.
When the surroundings are quiet at night, cats may unleash their energy and engage in playful running, simulating hunting behaviors.
Cats, regardless of age, can accumulate energy throughout the day, which they release through bursts of intense activity.
The dashing about at night behavior provides an outlet for this stored energy and allow cats to express their natural hunting instincts.
Managing the Crazies
First of all, the midnight crazies is not a strange behavior you are going to stop and there is no need to worry about it. We all know kitties work in mysterious ways.
While the midnight antics cannot be completely eliminated, here are some ways to manage and redirect this behavior
Engage your cat in interactive play sessions during the day using cat toys such as feather wands or laser pointers.
This simulates hunting and provides an outlet for their energy, potentially reducing the intensity of the night time crazies.
If your cat is only an indoors kitty, you will need to be the provider of stimulation.
Keeping the cat active and stimulated can replicate hunting behavior. Provide toys that he can chase and that encourage interaction.
Remember to let the cat catch the toy (prey to your kitty) so that he has some satisfaction of catching what he was chasing.
Toys such as fishing rod toys are great for playing with the cat.
Note: You may want to put the cat’s toys away at night to lessen any shenanigans with toys in the wee small hours that may be noisy.
Create an environment that offers mental stimulation for your cat.
Provide scratching posts, climbing structures, and puzzle toys that can keep them engaged and entertained throughout the day, helping to expend energy before bedtime.
Establish a regular routine for feeding, playtime, and sleep.
Cats thrive on consistency, and having a predictable schedule can help regulate their energy levels and promote more restful sleep during the night.
Ensure your cat receives enough physical exercise during the day to tire them out.
Encourage interactive play and provide opportunities for them to run, jump, and chase, which can help reduce their overall energy levels.
Create a designated area where your cat can retreat and feel secure during their energetic episodes.
This could be a cozy bed, a cat tree, or a quiet corner of the house. Having a safe space can help alleviate any potential stress or anxiety.
Advice To Make you laugh
Simon Tofield’s animation absolutely nails the cat crazies and there is some excellent advice from a cat behavior expert. I couldn’t stop laughing while watching this video.
Can It Be More Serious Than The Cat Night Crazies?
If the behavior described above doesn’t sound like your cat’s behavior and you are concerned that your kitty’s behavior is more extreme, it may be a more of a serious behavioral problem.
There are also more threatening health conditions such as Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome or FHS that mainly affects mature cats. There is more information about FHS here.
Common symptoms include:
- rolling or twitching of the skin
- self grooming considered to be excessive
- aggressive biting and attacking of the tail
- a dislike of being touched on the back or at the base of the tail sometimes resulting in aggressive behavior
If you have any concerns it is always best practice to go to the vet. The symptoms mentioned above are for your reference only. There is nothing that will substitute a diagnosis from a veterinarian.
For most of us, the cat going a bit crazy at night is just part and parcel of owning a cat and we wouldn’t change anything for the world.