Moody Cats: Why Does My Cat's Mood Change So Quickly? Your Catโ€™s Mood Swings Explained

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Although the old wives' tale is that cats have 9 lives, it can sometimes seem like they have 9 different personalities as well. Find out why your cat's mood might change from one moment to the next.

Cats can be confusing creatures. One minute they are snuggled up on your lap, and the next they are giving you the cold shoulder. You might even feel a little offended by your cat’s mood swings, or at the very least, perplexed. Don’t worry -- we’re here to clue you in on your moody cat’s capricious behavior. Read on to learn some of the reasons for a cat’s mood swings. 


Most cats enjoy a good petting, but sometimes a cat may suddenly change their mind and run away or even react aggressively. This is often due to discomfort or overstimulation, either because you are petting too vigorously or because the area that you are petting is highly sensitive (for example, the base of the tail). Keep an eye on when your cat’s mood suddenly changes. If it’s during petting, you may need to change your technique.


Does your cat’s mood suddenly change in situations where they feel threatened or territorial? Many cats will go from friendly to ferocious when they feel they need to protect their belongings (food or toys), protect themselves (like from a child trying to pick them up), or protect their kittens. If you see your cat’s mood changing in response to perceived threats, you may want to look into cat aggression.

Changes to Routine

Cats are creatures of habit, and they don’t do well with changes to their routine. Moving to a new house, welcoming a baby or pet into the family, entertaining a visitor, traveling, or even a small adjustment to their schedule can all cause a cat to begin acting strangely. If you notice that your cat is acting moody, consider any recent lifestyle changes that may be causing insecurity or stress.

Medical Problems

Many medical problems can cause cats to have mood swings. A cat with back pain may appear gentle and friendly until their back is touched, at which point they may react fearfully or aggressively. Hyperthyroidism can cause sudden hyperactivity. Hyperesthesia syndrome -- a brain disorder -- can cause a cat to behave oddly, often in short bursts. If your cat’s mood swings can’t be explained any other way, contact your veterinarian to rule out any medical problems.

More on Cat Behavior

What Can Cause a Scared Cat to Panic?
Why Do Cats Scratch?
The Benefits of a Playful Cat

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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