Why Do Cats Act Crazy and Run Around?

Maine Coon kitten jumping from couch to ottoman
Cats may seem to act crazy out of nowhere. GK Hart & Vikki Hart/Taxi/Getty Images

Cat and Dog Communication Differences

A lot of time has been spent over the years learning about dog behavior, training dogs, teaching dogs, and understanding dogs. Most people understand basic dog language and behavior but do not recognize basic cat behavior. Dogs have expressive faces and body language that we can read pretty accurately. They wag their tails, make different noises to alert us to their moods, and easily follow basic commands in order to please us.

Cats, on the other hand, are usually known more for their emotional vagueness and being standoffish. But there is a growing belief that cats are just as expressive as dogs and we misunderstand or don’t see what or how they’re trying to communicate.

When it comes to cats, meows and tail waves can mean a lot of things. With each purr, yowl, or even blink, felines are actually trying to communicate with you. For the increasing number of pet owners who want to connect with their often-aloof cats, experts say there’s something to gain from those attempts at communication. Cats are very independent so they are easily misunderstood but that doesn’t mean you can’t find out why your cat is doing something, like acting crazy all of a sudden.

Cats Gone Wild

No matter the breed, all cats have moments when they run across a room, meow like crazy, and act as though they are 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 themselves with wild activity or jump on your bed to paw at your feet, elbows, hair and face to get you to join in on the fun. The reasons for this amusing and wild behavior can vary.

Reasons Why Your Cat Acts Crazy

Cats are predators and sometimes when they are acting crazy they may be exhibiting hunting behaviors, fighting maneuvers, and escape techniques. House cats who do not have to hunt for their food will still need to exert their pent up energy and it is often in the form of this crazy behavior. Toys such as mice, laser pointers, and feather wands that encourage a cat to chase, jump, and grab are good ways to allow your cat to utilize their natural instincts if they do not spend time outdoors.

Another reason for your cat’s crazy behavior could be because cats are nocturnal and become more active at night. If they aren't getting enough exercise during the day they will be especially crazy.  Many house cats spend the days alone and indoors while their owners are at work. When the owner comes home in the evening, the cat wants to play and will be very active. If they have no outlet for this energy they may exhibit some crazy behavior. Kittens will be especially energetic.

If you have an older cat, it is possible that they are acting crazy due to some cognitive dysfunction or senility. As pets age their brains may start functioning differently and cause them to exhibit strange behaviors with no reasonable explanation.

Sometimes cats will act crazy and look like something is biting them sporadically because they have fleas. Particularly when meowing is involved, a cat could simply have an itch in a place he can't reach or be hypersensitive to flea bites. If you suspect your cat has fleas be sure to treat all animals with fur in the household with a product designed to kill and prevent fleas. If your cat has a heavy infestation of fleas you will also need to treat the environment by vacuuming, doing laundry, and even using area sprays or flea bombs. Once the fleas are gone your cat should stop this behavior.

FHS, which stands for Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, is more of an odd reason why cats may act crazy. If the skin on your cat's back appears to be rippling while they are running about, or if they frequently bite at their back above their tail (and you’ve already treated them for fleas), discuss FHS with your veterinarian.

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome is not common but most commonly affects mature cats. The classic signs of FHS occur when you go to pet your cat at the base of the tail or back and instead this petting triggers your cat to groom, scratch, and bite the area excessively and then run around the house crazily. The cause of FHS is unknown.


Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT