Why Indoor Cats Run in the House

Playtime provides exercise for Kitty.
i David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

You're sitting on the couch, minding your business, or perhaps your cuddly in bed, and kitty zooms across the room at lightening speed. No one is chasing him, and he doesn't seem to be chasing anyone else. Kitty isn't seeing things, he's just acting on his instinct and doing a little running.

Pent Up Energy

Your cat has things pretty good. He gets his food put out for him everyday. He always has a warm, safe place to sleep. He gets all the love and attention he could want. But his instinct to run and chase prey doesn't diminish just because he doesn't have to do it to feed himself. Every now and then, you'll notice his eyes get wide and he zooms around your house like he's lost his mind. Kitty is an excellent hunter, and he can hit a top speed of around 30 miles per hour. While he's perfectly happy being a fat house cat most of the time, every so often his wild instinct to chase will overcome him.

Nocturnal Kitty

Another time Kitty may run around the house is while you're trying to get some sleep. In the wild, Kitty would be nocturnal, meaning he's awake at night. Cats also do most of their hunting at night. Us humans have the strange habit of sleeping for long periods of time, usually at night. Kitty tends to take his long hours of sleep in short bursts. He'll probably take advantage of the quiet time when you're away at work to nap. It's also a good way to keep from getting bored when his favorite person is away. Since he's spent most of the day resting, when you're ready to call it a night, he's ready to play. He'll keep himself entertained by chasing his toys or buddies around the house.

Potty Run

Some cats have the curious habit of bolting out of their litter box after going to the bathroom. The exact reason cats run after using the bathroom isn't completely understood, but it's probably a carryover survival instinct. In the wild, cats bury their poop to hide them from potential predators. The smell could attract a predator to their location. After they cover it up, Kitty may run away to put some distance between his poop and any animals who may know where he is and be laying in wait.

Let's Play!

To keep Kitty from running around like a maniac when you don't want him to, make sure he gets plenty of exercise. If you play with him before bed, it may wear him out enough to get him to rest when you do. A laser toy or tugged piece of yarn will trigger his instinct to chase, as well as giving you some laughs at his antics. A paper bag or catnip mouse will give him some playtime that he can do on his own. Exercise has the added benefit of keeping him at a healthy weight.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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