We've all been there. Your cat naps throughout the day and you keep wondering how someone can sleep this much? Why is my cat so tired? Cue night time and the clock strikes midnight. Your cat suddenly has more energy than it knows what to deal with. And this results in your cat dashing about your house, crashing into things, and meowing everywhere.
This 'crazy' cat behavior is nothing to be worried about and is in fact, usually quite normal. Here are a few reasons why your cat acts the way it does.
1. Cats are nocturnal
Cats are nocturnal when in the wild and carry out most of their hunting at night. With your domestic cat, this instinct to hunt at night still holds, and it's primarily why your cat naps for 12 to 16 hours throughout the day.
By sleeping during the day, your cat is primed and energized to hunt at night. On top of this, many domestic cats spend a lot of their time indoors and without much engagement during the day. This creates pent up energy that they also need to burn out by running around crazy at night when they’re finally awake.
There’s no major fix to this except for slowly adjusting your cat's circadian rhythm it falls asleep at night. One way is to keep them engaged more during the daytime and not let them sneak off into a corner and nap.
The next strategy is two to three hours before you decide to go to bed, use some toys to play with your cat to burn away some of its energy. Then, give it a bedtime meal to help kick in the sleep. Both of these should help it fall asleep at night when the humans do!
2. They are predators
Though your cat is domestic and lives most of its life indoors, it still has predatory instincts that it needs to flex about from time to time. When your cat darts about the house, jumps up and down the sofa, and generally acts on edge randomly in the middle of the night - this is those predatory instincts acting up.
With pent-up energy and no actual ability to hunt, cats try to practice their hunting abilities by running around and chasing after imaginary things in the home.
To help burn that energy and let your cat feel like its ability to act out its predatory instincts, use toys such as feather wands, laser pointers, and even soft toy mice. Lace them with catnip to get your cat excited and awake.
All of this should help them tire out and be ready for bed at night.
3. Old age is kicking in
Sometimes when your cat is acting crazy it may not be its natural instincts but just old age kicking in.
Older cats can develop cognitive dysfunction and their brains may not be able to function normally anymore. This can cause cats to exhibit strange behavior such as restlessness, excessive licking, increasing meowing, and frequent disorientation.
In some cases, a good sign is if your cat stops using their litter box and soils around the house, and it forgets common areas of the home and gets trapped in certain places.
If anything seems odd to you, it’s best to check with your vet on whether this may be early signs of selinity for your cat.
4. FHS or Fleas
Another reason your cat may be acting weird at odd times of the night could be due to either Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) or if your cat has fleas.
With FHS, your cat will show symptoms such as its back skin starting to ripple when it's dashing around, and whenever you go to pet your cat on its tail or back, this triggers excessive grooming or biting in this area followed by running around crazy.
FHS is known to affect mature cats and if you have the slightest doubt, it’s good to visit the vet and get a professional diagnosis.
Fleas, on the other hand, are best noticed if your cat is meowing and running about acting as if something is biting it. It may try scratching or biting hard to reach places and this is a good indicator it may have fleas.
Treating fleas involves using pet products such as flea combs, bathing your cat in flea shampoo, and treating your cat's coat with flea spray.
Understand your cat’s body language
Ultimately, the best way to understand why your cat acts the way it does is to pay attention to its body language.
Your cat's meows, tail wave, and body posture can all be tell-tale signs of how it's feeling.
Is its tail bristled and standing straight? Then your cat may be feeling scared and on-edge.
Does it playfully meow at your before dashing across the room? Your cat may be trying to get you to play with him/her.
How your cat acts at the middle of the night can help you determine if something is bothering it, or if it’s just hunting time.
If your cat constantly meows at night there’s a chance it’s trying to get your attention to come to play. Don’t give in! The only solution to this is to let your cat know that meowing won’t make you cave to its demands and slowly it’ll learn to keep itself busy if it can’t sleep.
Similarly, if your cat displays a fight of flight behavior such as cowering down low with extremely dilated pupils. Don’t get worried that it may be afraid of you and wants to attack. Your cats just trying to play hunt with you, and if the behavior suddenly shifts to a relaxed posture then you know this is the case.
By applying the above tactics to help shift your cat’s sleeping pattern, and having an eye on it’s behavior. You’ll be able to tell why your cat acts the way it does, and figure out how both of you can get a peaceful nights sleep together.