by Michael
(London, UK)

Mad Cat - Nah - just looks it to us - photo by Andre Sa

People search for mad cats. First a slightly serious point. "Mad cats" can mean one of three things:

  • a cat that is acting oddly to us, perhaps in play
  • a cat that looks angry and/or is very angry or is acting defensively
  • a cat that is mentally ill or
  • a cat doing something that looks crazy to us

People are looking for the first, second or fourth form of mad cat as the other are of no interest to most of the public. Here is a cat that looks mad (angry):

Mad cat - photo by Cody Bryant

Cats that appear to us to be behaving in a mad way are not actually behaving in mad way. Their behavior would be normal to the cat. They are behaving instinctively. In the following example we have a cat that seems to be in a rescue center but I am not sure. I have never heard or seen a cat so mad. This cat though, to me, is acting very, very defensively. Something bad happened to her/him (looks like a female to me) at the hands of humankind. When she sees a person she gets into fighting mode, immediately. Look how the ears have flattened. This is to protect them in what is preparing for; a fight. Cats ears get easily damaged in fighting:

Here is another example of a cat cornered and getting mad. As before, it is a defensive measure. The hissing mimics a snake and so does the spitting. This cat feels threatened by what it thinks is perhaps a predator. The predator in this instance is the cameraman. It would seem that the cat was in strange territory, perhaps the cameraman was looking after the cat for someone or this is a rescue cat with a foster carer. A cat in familiar surroundings would not feel threatened. The cat might also be at home but the cameraman is a stranger. Not much difference. Either way, I don't like it as the cameraman got a nice video but at the expense of frightening the cat. I guess the person doesn't mind.....

Quickly moving on from those scary videos. Mad looking behavior in cats usually comes about when they are playing or doing something madly athletic. So mad cats are at least demonstrating to us how athletic they are. In the following example the cat appears to be a mad cat, acting crazy. He or she is chasing his tail or it seems like that. My view is a bit different.....

....This cat is creating play without the input of either another cat or person. And play is practice for hunting prey. There are two elements that makes the play work. The duvet is a nice substitute for low level undergrowth. It is flexible and soft, similar to the kind of undergrowth, in which, small prey like mice live. The tail simply acts as a stimulus to chase the prey in the undergrowth (the duvet). It is very easy to play with a cat on a duvet by placing an object under the duvet and moving it. OK, this video looks like a crazy mad cat. It is, in fact, a normal cat finding a way to entertain him or herself in a constructive manner by practicing catching prey. A smart rather than a mad cat.

The next video shows cats that look as if they are behaving like mad cats. They are living dangerously (by our standards) walking along a narrow ledge with a very high drop on one side. A large number of cats die falling off balconies and at this height the self righting mechanism does not assist (see cat falling). Some cats survive with injury and some don't. The cat does not see danger and is very athletic and adept at walking along the narrow railing. The problem for me (sorry) is that the person videoing this is letting it happen. Sure, cats are very good at doing this but not perfect and they fall sometimes. I guess he didn't realize that but commonsense says he should have:

Conclusion: Mad cats are very rarely mad, just acting instinctively on what is learned. And we owe a duty of care to protect our cats and threat them with dignity.

Mad Cat to Funny Cat Videos

Mad Cats - Photo:

From Mad Cats to Moggies

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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