What causes our cats to start behaving erratically? Why do cats have a ‘mad half hour’ and what can we do to calm them?
If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed a small portion of the day when your usually docile housemate suddenly becomes a four-legged firework. Out of nowhere, they begin to bound throughout the house at high speed as if they’ve been seriously spooked. One moment they’re leaping across the sofa, the next they’re hanging from your brand new curtains. Crockery can break, carpets scuffed, picture frames smashed. Before you know it, your front room has become a fur-covered war zone.
It may comfort you to know that this peculiar phenomenon is not uncommon. It even has a name, dubbed “The Mad Half Hour”. But what exactly is causing our cats to suddenly behave this way and what can we do to help?
In most cases, this period of the day is essentially our cat’s way of releasing energy in a short, concentrated burst. In the same way that humans are advised to get 30 mins exercise a day, it’s often our pet’s means of getting the movement they need while venting any pent up frustrations or feelings. Some cats will always be more energetic than others and how the Mad Half Hour affects them will depend largely on their personality and living situation.
The Mad Half Hour appears to be particularly common in housecats. You’ve heard of the expression “climbing up the walls”. Well, like us, if your feline friend spends too much time indoors, they may need to start expelling their energy in not necessarily the most constructive of ways.
A cat with regular access to an outdoor space means they’re able to show off their climbing, running and pouncing skills more easily. Without that, instinct will begin to take over their bodies and they may just have to start improvising by leaping across your furniture. Having easy access to outdoor space is of course not always possible for every cat owner. Here are some handy tips for providing a healthy and happy living space for your indoor cat.
Related: Check out our tips for looking after indoor cats
This sudden change in behaviour can also be triggered by your cat sensing another animal’s presence. Cats are naturally territorial creatures, so if they suspect another animal is encroaching on their turf, it’s likely to send them into a spin. If you live in a neighbourhood with numerous other pets in the area, you may have noticed your cat racing to the window and beginning to meow as if possessed by the devil.
They could also have picked up on the scent of possible prey. As adorable as our cats are, they’re natural-born hunters. If they detect a mouse, bird or other small creatures nearby, this can immediately transform them from a curled up ball of fluff to a high-speed assassin.
If your cat appears to be behaving in a constantly skittish and erratic manner, they may be suffering from anxiety. Here are some helpful tips on how to recognise signs of stress and worry in your cat and what you can do to help them.
What Can We Do to Calm Them?
With the Mad Half Hour being a natural part of many cats’ development, it may not always be possible or even helpful to try and stop them from expelling this energy. However, you can certainly find more constructive ways for them to channel it, thus reducing the possible path of destruction in their wake.
For instance, there are many toys and accessories available specifically designed to help your cat get the exercise and stimulation they need. Providing the right one for your cat could just be the answer you’re looking for.
If you’ve noticed they like to excessively scratch and claw once the “madness” strikes, you might want to consider getting a cat scratcher. These come in a range of all shapes and sizes and can be an invaluable resource for your pet to focus their energy onto.
If they like to leap and clamber up onto high surfaces, a cat climbing frame can provide the support they need without risking another cup of tea being knocked onto your laptop. Again, these can be a particularly helpful substitute if you don’t have access to enough outdoor space for your cat.
Remember, it’s perfectly natural for your cat to suddenly start behaving like a furry Indiana Jones now and again. Providing them with the appropriate space and tools to focus this energy onto will make for a very happy kitty as well as a far calmer, cleaner household.
Treat your cat with some luxury cat furniture today and make sure your home feels like theirs, too! Check out our stylish cat furniture. And if you’re feeling social, head over to our Instagram and Facebook and share pics of your cats in their finest mad half hours.