I feel that I am failing my cat because I am not up and active at 4am playing with him. He’s the first cat I have lived with who has a strong desire to be out hunting at 4am. He’s the most active cat during the night that I have ever lived with. His behaviour embodies all that is expected of the domestic cat in terms of inherited wild cat behaviour.
The cat crazies, as they are called, are an expression of frustration. That’s how I see it. The domestic cat is instinctively driven to hunt and, therefore, to be at her most active at dawn and dusk because prey is also active at these hours. For my cat it is at dawn when he is at his most active. Although during the entire night he is driven. His ‘nighttime’ for sleeping is from 10 am to 3pm.
If he was allowed to roam freely he’d be wandering over half a square mile and living dangerously at dawn. If that happened, I’d have no idea what he was up to except to know that he was hunting and exploring and at risk of not returning.
My cat is confined to the back garden (backyard) which is a decent size by UK urban standards together with the house which is also a decent size but they are not large enough and it is not dangerous enough for him. He needs to be challenged. Domestic cats need at least about a couple of acres of space I reckon.
I feel as if he needs to be stressed and worked. He is programmed to be in survival mode and if survival is soft he becomes frustrated.
The root cause of the ‘problem’ (the problem is mine) is that he will never get rid of his feral background. Purebred cats are bred to be more domesticated and as a consequence don’t have such a deep desire to be active in the early hours of the morning. They say that the domestic cat is barely domesticated.
Well, this statement is elastic. Some domestic cats are more domesticated than others. As soon as I got up (at about 5:15am) and made some tea he came over and is lying down next to me while I type this. I also sprayed some calming pheromone into the kitchen to see if that helped. He’s calmed down now but it’s not pheromones, it’s me being awake and in any case he’s burned himself out. I don’t believe that this was a case of attention seeking. He wants me to be in sync with him.
It’s a burst of the cat crazies. I think cat owners should regard the cat crazies as a sign of our failure to ensure that our cats are entirely content. I don’t think we should dismiss the cat crazies as some sort of amusing form of odd domestic cat behaviour and ignore it.
If I followed the active hours of my cat he’d be more content and he would stop these mad moments at 4 in the morning. We are out of step in our circadian rhythms. This applies to all human-to-cat relationships. It is an issue that we cannot overcome. It’s a barrier to a good relationship.
It sounds as if I am being negative. I’d say I was being realistic.
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.