Why Do Cats Sometimes Act So Crazy?

Maine Coon kitten jumping from couch to ottoman
GK Hart & Vikki Hart/Taxi/Getty Images

Dogs we usually understand, mostly because they are so easy to understand. They have expressive faces and body language that we can read pretty accurately. Cats, on the other hand, are known for their emotional vagueness and standoffishness.

But there is a growing belief that cats are as expressive as dogs. It’s just that we misunderstand or don’t see what they’re trying to communicate.

When it comes to cats, those meows and tail waves mean … well, a lot of things.

With each purr, yowl or even blink, felines are saying, “Hello,” “Let’s snuggle” or “Get Outta Here.”

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, and so they are easily misunderstood. Here is a discussion that aims to demystify the mystery of certain cat "talk" -- specifically the eyes -- by helping you discern what cats are trying to convey.

Crazy Cats

All cats, no matter what the breed, have periods of time where they all of a sudden out of nowhere run across a room, meow like a nut, 50 miles an hour, meow or cry again and again, darting faster and looking around all over the place then stopping?

Such actions are sometimes referred to as the "night crazies," if they happen at night. The "midnight crazies" is a popular name for a cat's behavior when she plays and roughhouses in short spurts in the middle of the night.

The cat may entertain herself with wild activity or jump on your bed and paw at your feet, elbows, hair and face to get you to join in.

Although the reasons for these amusing actions can vary, it is difficult to pinpoint any one cause.

Possible Reasons

  • One theory is that the cat is simply practicing hunting methods, fighting maneuvers, and escape techniques.
  • Need for exercise: Another theory is that house cats become active at night simply because they aren't getting enough play and exercise during the day. 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.
  • Simple Zest for Life: Although this is a more common reason for kittens and younger adult cats with excess energy, I have occasionally seen senior cats going ballistic for no other apparent reason.
  • An Errant Flea Bite: Particularly when meowing is involved, a cat could simply have an itch in a place he can't reach to scratch. If you suspect fleas to be the case, time to de-flea your cat and your home.
  • Rippling Skin DisorderAlso called Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) is a more serious cause of cats acting crazy. If the skin on your cat's back appears to be rippling while he is chasing about, or if he frequently bites at his back above the tail, suspect this cause and see your veterinarian for treatment options.