What Does Erratic Cat Behavior Mean?

Some cats act normal, other cats act weird. Of course, cats may be considered weird period, but some behavior is just…off. If you as an owner see erratic cat behavior, you may be unsure of how to act. But what qualifies as erratic cat behavior? Well, read on to find out. Here, we will discuss what is erratic cat behavior, and what it means if you see any of this within a kitty.

Not Eating Period

The most common signs of change that you can look at in a cat, is eating. Some cats eat normally, some cats eat weird stuff, which we will get to in just a second, but not eating period is a cause of alarm. It’s actually a bigger thing than you might believe because the health of a cat is negatively affected by this. If they don’t get the right nutrition, this can cause the cat to lose control of their health. It causes different problems, including a huge amount of weight loss, and it can be devastating for already small cats, to begin with.

So why does a cat stop eating? Well, it could be the following:

  • A disease
  • An illness
  • A toothache
  • Kidney failure
  • Possible depression in cats

If you see this in a cat, it’s important to get their butts to a vet quickly, since it could be a huge problem with a cat, and it’s an erratic cat behavior that you should watch out for.

Eating Random Stuff

This is often called pica, and while you may have heard of pica in humans, such as randomly eating dirt and clay, it’s actually much more worrisome in cats. Eating random stuff is sometimes done out of boredom, but it can be a sign of underlying issues, and if this gets into a cat’s system, it can actually be devastating and create alarm, since it does require surgery.

Some of the underlying health issues in a cat that has pica include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Liver disease
  • A deficiency of thiamine
  • Any sort of nutrient deficiency

Usually, the best thing to do is to see a vet if you’re worried about a cat’s behavior. Sometimes, a cat does this out of boredom, but if they’re obsessive over it, that can be a problem.

Now, some cats get curious, and that’s where they tell you not to leave stuff out. You’ve probably seen your cat before get curious and try to get at a plant, but it’s more than that. This usually involves an excessive amount of trying to eat the following:

  • String
  • Electrical Cords
  • Kitty litter
  • Fabrics
  • Rubber bands
  • Needles and thread or even yarn
  • Plastic
  • Houseplants

Some cats like to get into fabric sucking, and it’s a random activity where some cats will literally suck on wool in a way that’s similar to suckling that kittens do. Some cats will chew and eat it, and here’s the problem with that, it can actually cause a lot of problems with a cat, including the following:

  • Digestive issues
  • Intestinal blockage
  • A gut that’s completely filled up

Some cats do this because they’re stressed, or bored, and there may be changes in the surroundings that cause this. This is an abnormal cat behavior, and you should make sure that if you see this, you talk to the vet. Usually, if they’re weaned too early, they do this, and it’s common that it happens in indoor cats.

The best way to really make sure that your cat doesn’t get into this is to do the following:

  • Enrich their environment, make it much more interesting
  • Reduce the stress in a cat’s life, especially if they’re in a new place
  • Keep all of the items that are listed out of reach as possible
  • Give them better outlets for their boredom so that they don’t’ start to do it
  • If possible, go in and see the vet

These can lead to other excessive behaviors, so always make sure that if you need to, you see the vet whenever possible.

Drinking Too Much Water

Cats do need water, just like how we do, but if you see your cat just drinking and drinking water excessively, with no actual spillage happening, you should see the vet right away. While cats need water like the rest of us, it can actually be a huge problem.

That’s because a cat drinking a ton of water can mean the following:

  • Feline Diabetes
  • A kidney infection

If a cat is just guzzling down water in a way that’s abnormal, not because it’s super hot, that should be cause for concern. But, on the other side of the spectrum, if a cat isn’t drinking water period, that’s cause for alarm. If you notice that, you should take your cat to the vet as well.

Excessive or Weird Grooming

Some cats groom a lot. Some groom a little bit, some don’t groom at all. here’s the thing though, a change in it is something that can be of concern. In some cases, it could be because your cat is fat, and they can’t access the back of their fur. But, there are actually some major reasons as to why a cat may not be grooming themselves, grooming weirdly, or too much.

Some of the reasons include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • A skin condition
  • Arthritis or achy joints that make it painful for the cat to actually groom themselves
  • Mouth pain, since it can be a problem to do anything. Inflamed gums, drooling, or whatever. Can also affect their eating habits
  • An illness, especially kidney failure or thyroid issues
  • Can’t handle the long hair

Cats groom themselves as a means to actually take care of their coats. It’s how they bathe, and if they’re not doing it enough, or at all, that’s a sign of the problem. Remember, you as a caretaker are responsible for their coats of hair too, so always make sure that you realize this when you’re taking care of the furry little friend.

Aggressive Behavior

One thing to watch out for is aggression. Now, this isn’t just aggression towards another human being, it can be aggression in the following manner:

  • Lashing out at toys
  • Lashing out at children
  • Lashing out at guests
  • Lashing out at other pets

Sometimes though, if the cat has some aggression and they don’t have a hunting outlet, this can happen. That’s why sometimes cats get a little bit much when you play with them, but if they’re being really mean, that’s a cause for concern.

If you notice your cat who normally doesn’t showcase the following towards you, but starts to do the following, you should see a vet right away to find out what’s going on:

  • Biting
  • Hissing
  • Swatting
  • Overall mean behaviors

With a cat, this actually means something. Your cat is trying to tell you what’s going on. Pain is a major cause for this, and your cat may just be mean because they want to tell you that they’re suffering and need your help. Fear of something is another reason why they may get mean. If they have to visit a vet or a boarding facility, have new animals in the place, going outside for the first time, being around new people that they don’t like, or even smells that they don’t like can actually cause a cat to lash out. Pain from surgery and trauma including accidents and such, or even declawing and amputation can cause this problem. The best way to resolve this is to eliminate the reason why you’ve got the pain and fear happening, using the various medications and supplements that they need, and also reassuring your cat that you’re here. You should definitely see your vet if you notice some excess aggression because chances are, they’re trying to tell you something is wrong.

Hiding for Long Periods of Time

Some cats like to hide, but there is usually a reason behind it. If a cat is a bit spooked by the vacuum cleaner, they may have other issues if they’re hiding a lot. If a cat isn’t feeling well or scared, they can sometimes go off. Unfortunately, some cats may end up leaving if they know that the end of their life is close. The reason why a cat hides is actually always there. Cats normally either want space, but if they’re ultimately hiding, chances are, there is stress or trauma there.

Some of the reasons may include the following:

  • Vet visits
  • People in their home that they’re not used to
  • Schedule changes
  • New pets
  • Sounds that shock them a little bit

Cats do have fears just like we do. If it is a recent event, chances are they should be back to normal after a couple of days. If it’s an illness or something, it might need to be checked out by a vet, because it could be signs of something bigger.

Cat anxiety

Cats get anxiety like the rest of us, and that’s actually how they start to develop fears and behavior that isn’t normal. Fear is a feeling of apprehension, and while it is normal to respond to the scary things in this way, some cats develop an excessive amount of it.

Anxiety is sometimes known as “future danger anticipation” so they may develop these fears whenever they see something because of future events. Phobias are more in the extreme sense, and they are fear reactions that are harder for them to treat, such as noises or places.

Fearful cats are not happy cats, because they may start to showcase aggression. Typically, cats that have a lot of anxiety develop the following:

  • Become aggressive
  • Runaway a lot
  • Stay still in fear
  • May try to hide to appear smaller
  • The ears are back and flattened
  • The pads of the feet will sweat, and hearts will race
  • Sometimes involves bristled hairs, growling, hissing, dilated pupils, or swatting

By examining the cat with a vet, you can find out why they are acting this way. Many of the behaviors they adopt are slow, and it involves low-level exposure of the fear to improve it so that they get desensitized. It’s used in the same vein as fear handling tactics are used in humans, and you can work on modifying the behavior easily. If you treat with medications, you sometimes will need to watch this for side effects, and it’s not advised to just use that, because the stimulus producing fear isn’t tackled.

Not Playing

While some cats tend to be more playful than others, just like how some humans tend to be more social and prefer the stimulation compared to others, if you notice that a cat who plays a ton with you just suddenly stops, that’s cause for concern. That’s because it might be because they don’t feel good, or something is wrong. Perhaps playing is what’s causing them pain. If you notice this abnormal behavior, take them to a vet, since it is an erratic cat behavior that may seem small, but it can lead to problems.

Again though, some cats are more playful than others, and if they’re still playing a lot, instead of just shying away from playing, then you should be fine. But, if you feel like something is off, you should definitely take the cat in.

Litterbox issues

This is a common erratic cat behavior that actually causes a bunch of terrible things, including the following:

  • Relinquishing
  • Euthanization
  • Abandonment

This is a behavior change in urination and defecation, and usually, the reason why this happens is stress, fear, and litter box problems.

Some cats do this if they’re trying to tell you something. It’s a way that they communicate, and while it might be something small, such as the box issue, ti could be something more. Some of the reasons why your cat may have elimination issues are the following:

  • They don’t like the size of the box
  • They don’t like the litter
  • The litter is too dirty
  • They’re not a fan of the placement of the box
  • They want another litterbox and don’t want to share
  • They have bladder stones
  • They have a UTI
  • They have intestinal parasites

The first thing that you should always do if you suspect there are medical problems is obviously going see a vet. If you notice that your cat is fine, they’re just communicating box issues, you should focus on fixing the environmental issues. Some cats are little buttheads about their litterbox being taken care of. Sometimes, they may be too big for the box. One of my cats had issues with the box because he’s too chunky for it, so I needed to get another one for him. You should focus on making sure that the cat is taken care of as well.

There are other elimination changes that even the experts don’t fully understand. But, if you notice the following, you should take them to the vet for some help:

  • Large clumps of litter from the urine
  • Blood on the litter box
  • No urine clumps
  • The cat is straining, crying, or eliminating out of where the litter box is.

As of note, if you notice that the male cat is unable to urinate, it does become life-threatening in short order if you’re not careful.

Vocal Changes

One strange behavior that you may not know about when it comes to a cat, but is a change that you should know about, are vocal changes. Even something as small as how chatty they are can play a part in their overall health. Some cats are chatty, some aren’t, but if you notice the following, it’s best if you do make sure that you get them to a vet right away:

  • The voice sounds off
  • They aren’t as vocal
  • It sounds like they’re crying, or in pain
  • They are talking more at night time than daytime
  • Crying, along with yowling or any sort of very vocalizing noise

Usually, these types of noises either mean distress, confusion, pain, or fear. If they do this at night, it might be a cognitive issue or some dysfunction. If they start to vocalize these with some growling or hissing, then it might be more pain or fear than anything. You as an owner should listen to these, and you should see if there is something wrong

Another strange vocalizing that owners may notice is they will vomit a hairball, but right before they will vocalize it. Sometimes that’s your cat’s way of telling you, but otherwise, you should be careful and watch for these behaviors.

If you notice any of these behaviors, you should schedule a visit to the vet for a good diagnosis. It’s a very small change, but it’s a change that some don’t even realize is a thing.

Scratching

Cat scratching is usually a normal thing, and that’s why you get scratching posts for your little guy. But, what if you notice that they’re scratching more. If you notice this, chances are they are a bit stressed.

A common sign of abnormal changes in scratching include the following:

  • They scratch more
  • They scratch in one spot
  • They’re acting anxious as they do it

Usually, this is a sign of anxiety or stress. In that case, you should get them some supplements that are used to relax the cat, but without sedation. Another good thing to get them is some pheromones since it does lower the stress level. If there are reasons for them acting this way, you should definitely start to cater to these changes in the environment, since correcting this is the way to go.

Did you know that scratching is a form of marking their scent on there? For some cats, they naturally do it. When they scratch, they’re marking themselves on there, but if a cat is stressed out, chances are they may do it more, and it can be a huge problem if left unchecked.

Sleeping Changes

Another sign of erratic behavior is cats sleeping more or less than usual. If they’re not feeling good, it might be more, but there are times where a cat’s patterns may suddenly change. Cats sleep a lot, about sixteen or so hours a day, but if you notice the following, these can be signs of erratic cat behaviors

  • They’re sleeping a lot
  • They tend to gain more weight
  • They don’t’ feel like doing anything at all when they are awake
  • They aren’t as lively when they are awake
  • They tend to wake up at strange times of the night to yowl for attention

You should as a pet owner watch for these sleeping patterns, and make sure that your kitty isn’t in pain or danger.

Really, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, you should always take them to the vet. As an owner, it’s important that you make sure that you take the time to really make sure that your cat is healthy and taken care of. These are the key erratic cat behavior changes you may see, but if you notice period that your cat is acting funny, you can always take them in. plus, as an owner, you should try to get them in once a year for a checkup. This is important not just for the health of the cat, but also to make sure that your cat is happy and healthy, and you as an owner can make sure that your cats are taken care of, and seeing the vet before it gets too bad off will prevent the erratic cat behavior from happening.

Originally published at purrpetrators.com on September 14, 2018.

Cat fanatic and Arts and Craft Lover. With Pottery being my favorite hobby. And a dangerous combo when you add in a couple of chaotic cats. :)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store