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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Feline Nocturnal Activity Nighttime Crazy Cats!

What is it?

Cats snooze for long periods of time interspersed with brief periods of frantic activity.
[1] It not uncommon for cats to explode into action sometime during the evening or night. One moment, the cat may be grooming herself, when you hear a loud yowl or just cat tracks being laid across your floor and furniture.

The release of adrenaline gives the cat a wide-eyed, crazy look as if suddenly possessed by a deranged cat spirit.

You will see your cat display natural, normal feline behaviors that don't get enough exercise within most human homes.  Your cat will stalk imaginary prey, crouch, pounce, dash off in pursuit with an explosive force and speed.
Some cats climb curtains and bookshelves during these moments of wild cat safaris in your home.

What to do?

If the cat's activities are harmless, then simply ignore them or enjoy watching the show from a distance. Do not accidentally reinforce or reward this behavior with your obvious attention unless you want it to escalate in the future.


Altering cats - neutering and spaying - often have a general calming effect as fewer hormones are racing through the body.

Cat proof your home so that valuables are not broken. Most cats outgrow this behavior or can be easily redirected into daily play sessions by you using cat toys to exercise these natural behaviors and needs. 

Provide indoor cat climbing trees to allow the natural instinct to climb and use toys, catnip, and treats to encourage your cat to use his own furniture for climbing games.

Shooting a water pistol at your cat to hyperactivity is inappropriate unless you are providing plenty of alternative positive outlets for normal feline behaviors.

What not to do?

NEVER punish your cat for normal behaviors. Never hit, chase, swat or yell at your cat. Even water pistols make you the bad guy unless you are VERY sneaky. Punishment with a water pistol is not appropriate  unless you are meeting your cats needs in other positive ways. Don't expect your cat to stop being or acting like a cat!

[1] Dunbar, Ian & Bohnenkamp, Gwen (1985). "Hyperactivity." Cats Behavior Booklets. Berkeley, CA: Center for Applied Animal Behavior.

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