What Are the Causes of Pacing & Circling in Cats?

Pacing is sometimes a mating behavior in cats.
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If you've noticed recently that your usually calm and mellow cat has suddenly developed a penchant for pacing and circling around your home, don't simply chalk it up to kitty OCD. Repetitive pacing behavior in cats can point to a lot of different things, from mating issues to anxiety.


Obsessive pacing and circling is often a sign of anxiety, especially in senior cats. If your cat is feeling nervous and stressed out about something, she may express it by pacing, oftentimes during the night hours when you're trying to get some much-needed shut-eye! Felines can feel stress due to a variety of causes, from major lifestyle changes to frustration over cognitive difficulties. Separation anxiety at night can also trigger a cat to pace. If you're asleep -- and therefore "away" to your cat -- she may try to get your attention by pacing in your bedroom.


Pacing and circling can also be a sign of poisoning in cats. If you suspect that your cat has been exposed in any way to a toxic substance, seek emergency veterinary medical attention immediately. One such example is the sweet pea plant. If your cat accidentally ingests sweet pea, she may begin relentless pacing and circling along with other effects such as quivering, convulsions, exhaustion and unusual feelings of weakness. In severe cases, sweet pea may even be deadly to your precious pet, so be extremely careful.


If your cat hasn't been spayed or neutered, pacing also can indicate the desire to mate, both in male and female felines. When a queen cat enters into her heat cycle, she may repetitively pace around because she's feeling antsy -- she wants to get outside and find tomcats for mating purposes. Pacing also may be a sign that a pregnant cat is ready to give birth.

When a male cat reaches reproductive maturity, he may display similar pacing behaviors -- along with repeated attempts to escape your home and go outdoors and wander! If restless pacing and circling is a problem for you, consider getting your pet fixed. Along with making your little one significantly more relaxed, it will also help keep cat overpopulation under control -- a wonderful bonus.

Veterinary Attention

In some instances, pacing and circling behaviors can be signs of a serious medical condition. Be safe and smart -- take your fluffball to a veterinarian at the first sign of uncharacteristic pacing. Pacing is sometimes a symptom of ailments such as diabetes, liver disease or hyperactive thyroid. Without further ado, take your cat's health seriously and investigate the pacing issue.

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