Rambunctious and Hyperactive Behavior in Cats and Kittens
If your cat is attacking you, your furniture, phantom spirits and invisible mice; if he’s bouncing off the walls and ceiling; knocking things off counter tops; stealing; carrying around or hiding the most unusual objects; don’t worry, your cat is quite normal. Much of this obnoxious behavior is caused by his acting out play and predatory behavior. If these events occur in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning, don’t forget that cats are nocturnal animals. It’s normal for their activity level to peak late at night or early in the morning.
This frequently happens with lonely, bored cats that have an excess of energy and no where for that energy to go. They cannot chase real mice and birds, or climb real trees, so they develop other habits to entertain themselves.
Many of these problems can be prevented or cured by providing games, exercise and entertainment for your kitty. Get on the floor and play with your cat. Don’t just toss her a toy and expect her to play by herself. Tie a toy to the end of a string, toss it down the hall and reel it in, or slowly drag it across the floor. This gives kitty a moving target to chase and attack. Put a bird feeder outside a window so your cat can watch hummingbirds dive-bomb the fuchsia bush.
Sometimes kitten behavior, such as suckling and kneading, continues into adulthood. Provide your cat with something safe of his own towards which he can direct this behavior. If the cat decides to use you or your clothing for this activity, simply let him know you disapprove. A sudden, sharp shout or loud noise is usually sufficient. Remember to frequently encourage kitty to indulge himself with his own special suckling/kneading pillow, blanket or toy. Often a cat’s misbehavior is actually reinforced by your unintentional rewards. The cat suddenly runs up, nips you on the ankle and runs off. You scream and chase him. Although you think you are reprimanding the cat, he probably thinks this is a fun game. Cats can also become pests, demanding attention and affection because when they come over to bug you, you give them what they want – food, attention or affection.
Provide your cat with acceptable ways to expend this energy and act out her predatory behavior. If it’s the cat nocturnal activities that annoy you, then train your cat to shift her active phase to earlier in the evening. If you do not provide the cat with some kind of daytime activity, she will spend the day asleep. Instead of letting kitty doze all evening while you are watching television, turn off the tube and play with your cat. If you tire her out early in the evening, chances are more likely that she will sleep all night. If kitty still insists on playing at night, provide her with activities that will not disturb you. Provide your cat with plenty of soft toys.
Cats will also caterwaul, display frenzied behavior and spray urine for another reason. Your female cat may be in heat. Your unneutered male cat may be responding to neighborhood female cats in heat. The solution: get your cat spayed or neutered.
Spaying is a surgical procedure that entails the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Because of the cat’s unique sexual physiology, they usually become pregnant each time they mate. Many cats get pregnant without their owner even realizing that they have been in heat to begin with. In fact, some cats come into heat and get pregnant on the same night!
In addition, spaying removes the annoying behaviors that are characteristic of being in heat. If the female cat is prevented from mating, she will not ovulate. Consequently, the heat period may wax and wane for several weeks. During this time, she will often go off her food and become hyperactive. She may stop using her litterbox. In the evenings, she will caterwaul for males. A number of males will attempt to respond to this open invitation by replying in person. A courting tomcat will serenade kitty all night long, pausing only to spray urine everywhere and fight with other toms. Meanwhile, the confined female will generally work herself into a frenzy.
Your cat should be spayed as soon as she is six months old. She does not need to go through one heat period. She should be spayed before her first heat. You and your cat will be much happier if you spare her the frustration and nuisance of going through a heat period.
A spayed cat will tend to eat a little more and be slightly less active. However, this is no reason for the cat to become fat and lazy. Remember, you’re in control of the food. If your cat becomes overweight it is because she is fed too much and no one bothers to exercise or play with her.
Castration is a simple surgical procedure that entails the removal of the cat’s testes. Castration eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and reduces the likelihood of prostatic and other reproductive problems.
Following castration, there is a rapid decline in the incidence of roaming, aggression, fighting and spraying in most cats. The earlier the cat is castrated, the more likely these behaviors will be eliminated. If you wait too long, sometimes, these behaviors will have already become ingrained as habits.
Another reason to spay or neuter your cat is because you love animals. Don’t forget that every year millions of kittens and puppies in this country are put to death because no one wants them. Until homes are found for every one of these millions of unwanted pets, no more kittens should be born. It is as simple as that. The single biggest contribution you can make towards ending this tragic pet overpopulation problem is to have your own cat spayed or neutered