Why Is My Cat Acting Weird?

Cats are naturally conditioned to mask when theyre not feeling well, so it can be difficult to detect signs of cat illness right away. However, when a cat is sick, there can be some noticeable changes in their behavior.

Increased appetite can be due to endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or even hyperthyroidism, or nutrient malabsorption issues such as intestinal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Increased water intake can definitely be a sign of a sick cat, according to Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, director of veterinary services at the Humane Society of Missouris Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.

Decreased grooming can also be connected to pain from dental disease, injury or arthritis, according to Dr. Barrack. However, if you normally have a quiet kitty whos now meowing a lot, it might be time for a vet visit, says Dr. Ryan. Eighty-five percent of cats have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, and bad breath is one sign, according to Dr. Ryan.

When your kitty stops using the cat litter box , the underlying reason can be behavioral or medical, according to Dr. Barrack. Behavioral reasons are usually attributable to changes in the household causing stressa move, a new roommate (furry or human), new cat litter or less time with the owner, Dr. Barrack explains. Medical issues can also cause your cat to stop using the box and may include arthritis, cancer, feline interstitial cystitis, kidney stones or urinary tract infections.

Bring your cat to your veterinarian to determine if there is a medical cause of the inappropriate elimination, says Dr. Barrack. Pupil size changes noticeably in cats depending on the amount of light theyre exposed to, but if the changes happen at random times, or if they persist, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. For example, cats with joint or back pain might react aggressively if you touch the area that hurts, and things like hyperthyroidism can cause your cat to be hyperactive, reacting in what sometimes seems to be a hostile manner.

Some experts believe that in the wild, a cat would instinctively hide in order to stay safe, as being ill made them weak and susceptible to predators, says Dr. Ryan. Others believe that cats hide when they arent feeling well because they simply want to be left alone to sleep and recover, continues Dr. Ryan.

What do I do if my cat is acting strange?

In fact, cat behavior often changes long before you start seeing any physical symptoms—so be on the lookout for fluctuations in the way your cat behaves, and see your veterinarian if you notice something unusual.

How can you tell if your cat is not feeling well?

Constricted or dilated pupils..Vomiting or diarrhea..Sudden mood change..No inclination to play or appearing lethargic..Much less or much more vocal than usual..Sudden changes in appetite, drinking, or eating habits..Noticeable weight loss or gain.

By: Jane Harrell, Petfinder.com associate producer and Steve Dale, the host of the nationally syndicated radio shows Steve Dales Pet World and The Pet Minute with Steve Dale. His column, My Pet World, is carried in more than 100 newspapers nationwide and his new column, The CATalyst (in which this post originally appeared), just debuted. Steve also serves on the board of directors for the American Humane Association. Used with permission.

Changes in water intake: Drinking more or less can indicate a cat health problem, such as diabetes or kidney disease . Bad breath: If those pearly whites dont smell sweet as a daisy, something may be rotten in the mouth, or perhaps kidney disease or a digestive disorder.

Changes in grooming habits: Fastidious groomers letting themselves go even just a bit is a sure sign of potential illness. Changes in sleeping habits: From catnapping more to waking in the middle of the night, the explanation may be pain and/or illness, perhaps associated with aging.

Does your cat suddenly run around the house or get a nightly burst of energy, complete with a chorus of meows? This “crazy” behavior in cats may catch you by surprise, and a cat‘s body language is definitely not as easy to read as a dog’s. If you’ve been wondering why, out of the blue, your cat acts little wacky, weird, or zany, there are a few possible explanations.

Your cat may entertain itself with wild activity or jump on your bed to paw at your feet, elbows, hair, or face to get you to join in the fun. At times, a cat that’s acting crazy may actually be exhibiting hunting behaviors, fighting maneuvers, or escape techniques.

Toys , such as catnip mice, laser pointers, food puzzles, and feather wands encourage a cat to use its natural instincts to grab, chase, and jump. Illustration: The Spruce / Elise Degarmo
If you have an older cat, it’s possible it’s acting crazy because of some cognitive dysfunction or senility. As a pet ages , its brain may start functioning differently and cause it to exhibit strange behavior for no apparent reason.

Particularly when meowing is involved, your cat could be hypersensitive to flea bites or simply have an itch in a place it can’t reach. Petting at the base of your cat‘s tail or back triggers it to groom, scratch, or bite the area excessively and then run around the house crazily.

Whether gradual or sudden, a change in your cats behavior should indeed be a cause for concern. Changes in feline behavior can mean many things. As owners, we have to watch out for such changes and take action when necessary.

Well cover these and more in this guide, starting with normal behavior changes during the lifetime of a well-adjusted and generally healthy cat and moving on to the more mysterious sudden and unexpected changes in behavior. They tend to be more curious, explore their surroundings and play with their siblings or other pets in the household.

They can also be quite tiring, as they seem to relentlessly jump, bite, chew on things , climb and generally interact with everything and everyone between long sessions of deep sleep. As they grow older and mature, kittens calm down and lose the hyperactive streak. This is a gradual process that usually begins when the kitten is 4-6 months old and with some cats can take up to 2-3 years.

Male kittens usually reach sexual maturity between 5 to 8 months of age. Increased aggression levels towards other cats and people A tendency to roam (indoor-only intact males may try to get out) Urine spraying around the home The only way to stop these unwanted behaviors is by neutering the male to lower the levels of testosterone.

Have your male kitten neutered before the age of five months to make sure he doesnt develop these behavior problems. Female cats usually reach sexual maturity between the ages of five and seven months. Once that happens, the female will routinely go through heat cycles during most of the year (with the possible exception of winter months).

During the heat cycle, the female will display significant behavioral changes all of them due to the fluctuating hormones in her blood. Excessive affection Head rubbing against objects and people Loud meowing Crouching on the ground and extending the neck upwards Possible urine marking or just urinating outside the litter box Please save your cat from the stress of the heat cycle and prevent unwanted pregnancies by spaying Kitty in time.

Cats suffering FCD present deficiencies in hearing, vision, general awareness of their environment, memory, and ability to learn. FCD can disturb normal sleeping patterns, reduce activity, and disorient cats at times. Unusual aggressive behavior can also emerge in typically mellow cats as their confusion and memory loss increase.

Getting lost in a familiar environment Fixating/staring at an object Staring into space for extended periods Wandering aimlessly in their home Excessive vocalization, especially at night Cats with feline cognitive dysfunction may also appear less interested in interacting with owners, greeting people they know or socializing with other pets. Additionally, they may eat less, groom themselves less frequently and vocalize loudly for no apparent reason.

Any abnormal behavior in an aging cat should be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine if the cause is FCD or illness. Degenerative and/or painful disorders such as arthritis, urinary tract disease, thyroid dysfunction, or diabetes can increase irritability, sensitivity to being touched, and instinctual aggression in cats regardless of their age. Just how often would depend on the cats age, overall condition, and the amount of stress he or she experiences by going to the vet.

Now would be a good time to call your vet and set up a date to get her spayed as soon as possible. For example, lack of appetite can follow a minor viral infection, any sedation or anesthesia procedure, or sometimes even vaccinations. Teeth and/or gum infections often make it too painful for a cat to eat or even drink water.

Stress caused by environmental and household changes may also interfere with a cats appetite. If you bring home a shy cat, he or she may refuse to leave the security of that dark place behind the couch, even to drink or eat. Rapid weight loss can cause a serious disease called hepatic lipidosis, to the point of liver failure.

If your cat has stopped eating and hasnt had any food in 24 hours, call your veterinarian. Watch for other signs that your cat may be in pain and talk to your veterinarian if you suspect Kitty may be ill. Owners usually learn to recognize their cats patterns and find solutions to aggression issues.

What to do when an otherwise loving non-aggressive cat suddenly turns on you, hissing and possibly even biting and scratching? Sometimes the cat may be generally fine, but react violently if you touch a painful spot. This doesnt even have to be a major medical issue matted fur pulling on delicate feline skin can be enough to trigger a bite.

Fear triggers aggressive behavior in some cats, and that sometimes gets redirected to the nearest target around them. If your cat has stopped using the litter box, the first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment with the vet. Injuries, disease, and parasites can all make your cat ill following a visit to the great outdoors.

Abscesses caused by catfights Disease contracted from other cats Fleas Worms and other parasites Fractures and other injuries Stings and bites from small critters Poisoning Foreign objects lodged in various body cavities

Your Cat Is Suddenly Eating a Lot

A lot of people would worry if their cat stops eating, but an increase in appetite could also be a sign of a sick cat.“Sudden appetite changes can indicate your cat has underlying health problems and warrants a visit to the veterinarian,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH of Animal Acupuncture in NYC. “Increased appetite can be due to endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or even hyperthyroidism, or nutrient malabsorption issues such as intestinal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.”Image:

Your Kitty Is Drinking More Than Usual

Increased water intake can definitely be a sign of a sick cat, according to Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, director of veterinary services at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America. “And while cats need plenty of fresh water, drinking too much can indicate kidney disease in cats, diabetes or thyroid problems,” Dr. Ryan says.Image:

He’s Suddenly Very Vocal

Meowing is an important way that cats communicate with humans, so if they are sick they may be more vocal, and the sound of their meow might be different, explains Dr. Ryan.One thing to keep in mind is that some cats are more vocal than others, so just because your cat is talking, it doesn’t mean he’s sick. “However, if you normally have a quiet kitty who’s now meowing a lot, it might be time for a vet visit,” says Dr. Ryan.The opposite is also true. Take notice if your vocal cat becomes unexpectedly quiet. “Always consider your cat’s normal behavior, and if there are any changes, it is best to call the veterinarian,” says Dr. Ryan.Image:

His Breath Is Not the Freshest

Eighty-five percent of cats have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, and bad breath is one sign, according to Dr. Ryan. “Talk to your veterinarian at each wellness visit about dental cleanings and what you can do at home to prevent dental disease; not only does dental disease cause bad breath, but it can lead to more serious issues like kidney, liver and heart problems.”While dental disease is the most common cause of bad breath in cats, there could be other reasons for bad breath. “A cat with diabetes may have a sweet-smelling breath along with increased thirst and urination,” Dr. Ryan says. “A cat with kidney disease, on the other hand, can have breath that smells like ammonia because the kidneys aren’t able to filter waste products adequately.”Image:

He’s Not Using the Litter Box Properly

When your kitty stops using the cat litter box, the underlying reason can be behavioral or medical, according to Dr. Barrack. “Behavioral reasons are usually attributable to changes in the household causing stress—a move, a new roommate (furry or human), new cat litter or less time with the owner,” Dr. Barrack explains.“Medical issues can also cause your cat to stop using the box and may include arthritis, cancer, feline interstitial cystitis, kidney stones or urinary tract infections. Bring your cat to your veterinarian to determine if there is a medical cause of the inappropriate elimination,” says Dr. Barrack.Image:

Your Cat’s Pupils Don’t Look Right

Pupil size changes noticeably in cats depending on the amount of light they’re exposed to, but if the changes happen at random times, or if they persist, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.“Dilated pupils, constricted pupils (when the pupils look very small) or one pupil that is dilated and the other is constricted can all be a sign of illness,” says Dr. Ryan. “Because these changes can happen normally throughout the day, it’s important to consult your veterinarian if you notice a change lasting over a long period of time.”Keep on the lookout for other indications of cat illness that are connected to the eyes, including discharge, droopy eyes or the third eyelid covering part of the eye, as well as more generalized symptoms like lethargy or a poor appetite. These can all be signs of a sick kitty.Image:

He’s a Little Cranky

If your sweet cat suddenly seems unusually irritable, it could be a sign your cat is sick.“Increasing irritability can be an indication of pain and/or senility,” Dr. Barrack says. For example, cats with joint or back pain might react aggressively if you touch the area that hurts, and things like hyperthyroidism can cause your cat to be hyperactive, reacting in what sometimes seems to be a hostile manner.Image:

Or Doesn’t Feel Like Playing

A lack of interest in playing can be an indication of a sick cat, especially if you have a usually playful kitty who now seems lethargic or uninterested in playing for no apparent reason.“You will also want to consider the circumstances,” says Dr. Ryan. “If your cat has been playing a lot or if there is a change that could cause stress, like visitors to the house or the addition of a new baby, he might not feel like playing.”Image:

Why Do Cats Act Crazy?

No matter the breed, all cats have moments when they run across a room, meow like crazy, and act as if they’re on a racetrack being chased. They dart about, faster and faster, looking all over the place and then suddenly stop in their tracks.This wild behavior is sometimes referred to as the “midnight crazies” when it happens at night. Your cat may entertain itself with wild activity or jump on your bed to paw at your feet, elbows, hair, or face to get you to join in the fun. The reasons for this wild and sometimes-amusing behavior vary.

Predatory Instinct

Cats are natural predators, and domestic cats retain this instinct to a certain extent. At times, a cat that’s acting crazy may actually be exhibiting hunting behaviors, fighting maneuvers, or escape techniques.A house cat that doesn’t have to hunt for its food still needs to burn its pent-up energy, and it may be in the form of what appears to be crazy behavior. Toys, such as catnip mice, laser pointers, food puzzles, and feather wands encourage a cat to use its natural instincts to grab, chase, and jump. This exercise is especially important for your cat if it doesn’t spend time outdoors.

Nocturnal Instinct

Another reason for your cat’s crazy behavior could be because some cats are nocturnal and become more active at night. If a cat isn’t getting enough exercise during the day, it may act especially crazy.Many domestic cats spend their days alone indoors while their people are at work. When the cat‘s person comes home in the evening, the cat may be very active and want to play. If it has no outlet for all this energy, the cat may exhibit some crazy behavior. Kittens are especially energetic.

Senility

If you have an older cat, it’s possible it’s acting crazy because of some cognitive dysfunction or senility. As a pet ages, its brain may start functioning differently and cause it to exhibit strange behavior for no apparent reason.

Fleas

Sometimes a cat acts crazy and looks as if something is biting it sporadically because it has fleas. Particularly when meowing is involved, your cat could be hypersensitive to flea bites or simply have an itch in a place it can’t reach.If you suspect your cat has fleas, treat all the furry animals in the household with a prescription product specifically for cats, designed to kill and prevent fleas. You should also see your vet to determine if there are any secondary skin infections of allergies from the fleas that need to be treated. You’ll also need to treat the environment by vacuuming, doing laundry, and using area sprays or flea bombs if recommended by your vet. Once the fleas are gone, your cat should stop this behavior.

Next Steps

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is a rare reason why a cat may act crazy, although it affects mature cats most often and the cause is unknown.Discuss the possibility of FHS with your veterinarian if you notice that:

Unexpected behavioral changes

In a nutshell, these are the changes a cat experiences during the feline life cycle:

What are Normal Behavior Changes in Kittens?

Generally speaking, kittens are more energetic than adult cats. They tend to be more curious, explore their surroundings and play with their siblings or other pets in the household. This is how kittens learn about the world and what being a feline is all about.This eventually changes.As they grow older and mature, kittens calm down and lose the hyperactive streak. This is a gradual process that usually begins when the kitten is 4-6 months old and with some cats can take up to 2-3 years.

When should you talk to your vet?

Just like humans, cats slow down with age. Many will experience some decrease in sensory abilities. They don’t hear and see like they used to and might display their version of “senior moments”.Fortunately, most cats do not become senile and can enjoy their golden years. In terms of behavior, they may “slow down” a little but should remain active and in good health.Some aging cats may experience a decline in mental functioning known as FCD, or Feline Cognitive Dysfunction.Cats suffering FCD present deficiencies in hearing, vision, general awareness of their environment, memory, and ability to learn. FCD can disturb normal sleeping patterns, reduce activity, and disorient cats at times. In some cases, older cats with FCD forget where their litter box is located and urinate or defecate outside the litter box. Unusual aggressive behavior can also emerge in typically mellow cats as their confusion and memory loss increase.Signs a cat is having episodes of disorientation include:Cats with feline cognitive dysfunction may also appear less interested in interacting with owners, greeting people they know or socializing with other pets. Alternatively, some cats become clingy and over-dependent, desiring more contact with owners. Additionally, they may eat less, groom themselves less frequently and vocalize loudly for no apparent reason.

“Why is my cat suddenly so affectionate?”

If your cat hasn’t been spayed yet then chances are she’s going into heat. In many females, excessive affection is often the first sign. Now would be a good time to call your vet and set up a date to get her spayed as soon as possible.If by affectionate, you’re referring to purring more than usual, this could actually indicate pain. See our article about signs of pain in cats to check if other signs are present and talk to your vet.Just to clarify – it’s perfectly natural for a cat to be affectionate. It’s when an adult cat suddenly becomes significantly more affectionate and even clingy that you need to figure out what’s going on.Many cats become clingy when their owner returns after being away from home for a long while. A list of potential stressors in cats and ideas on how to help alleviate that stress.

“Why has my cat suddenly started biting?”

Cats bite or nip owners for a variety of reasons. Some cats are more aggressive than others, or they may be too sensitive to petting. Owners usually learn to recognize their cat’s patterns and find solutions to aggression issues. If you’ve been dealing with an aggression problem for a long time, here are a few guides which may help you identify the cause of the aggressive behavior and find solutions –But what about a sudden onset of aggression?The first thing you need to check is… you guessed it, your cat’s medical condition.When in pain, even the friendliest cat may try to attack people around him. Just ask any veterinarian.Sometimes the cat may be generally fine, but react violently if you touch a painful spot. This doesn’t even have to be a major medical issue – matted fur pulling on delicate feline skin can be enough to trigger a bite. Or it could be something more serious.Other times, you may be dealing with re-directed aggression. Kitty may have been upset by something else inside your home – or out of it. Fear triggers aggressive behavior in some cats, and that sometimes gets redirected to the nearest target around them.If you suspect you may be dealing with re-directed aggression, read this guide –