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Why do cats run around at night?

Some pet parents call it the “zoomies,” others call it the “witching hour.” Whatever you call it, it’s no secret that cats seem to be especially cooky in the middle of the night. Let’s “shed some light” on the situation.

Are cats nocturnal?

It’s a common misconception that cats are nocturnal (most active at night), when they’re actually crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). This is because one of their favorite prey animals, mice, are also most active when people are less likely to notice them creeping through their food stores.

In fact, cats manage their activity throughout the day in shorter wake and sleep cycles than people do. So, often times it seems that their sleep schedule is at odds with our own. As masters of conserving energy, cats have been known to sleep from 16 to even 24 hours in a day! You can bet that once they’re awake, they’re going to make the most out of it.

Are they keeping you up at night?

While it’s perfectly natural for your cat to fly around at night like a bat out of “you know where,” all of the noise from their prancing around can easily wake you up. Luckily, the best solution to cat behavior problems is to provide an approved outlet for the unwanted behavior.

On the one hand, if your cat likes to rummage through your closet, dig in your laundry basket, or run behind your couch, you might want to leave a few treat puzzle balls or toy mice for kitty to find in there. That way, the satisfying reward will signal the end of their hunt.

On the other hand, if your cat is the kind that zips back and forth through the house, you may want to leave out cat tunnels and boxes to help them spend that extra energy. There are even wall mounted cat play centers available that can channel their scurrying activity into a different room far from your bedroom.

By the way, did you know that we have pet sitters available for nighttime and overnight visits? Having someone spend the evening with your cat while can provide peace of mind while you’re away.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Kerri Lee Smith on flickr

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