Last Updated on: October 19, 2020
It can be worrying if you suddenly start to notice that your cat is pacing. If this turns into a regular occurrence rather than a one-off, it can be a sign that everything isn’t quite right with your beloved cat.
The first thing to do is to try and figure out why your cat may be pacing. We’ve listed common reasons for pacing and what to do about each one.
1. Stress or anxiety
Cats are sensitive creatures, and there are many reasons that they can become stressed. If there have been changes to your routine, like moving to a new house, a new baby, or even another cat moving into the neighborhood, these can all cause your cat to feel stressed.
- What to do about it: Speak to your veterinarian, who may recommend anti-anxiety medication if your cat seems extremely affected. You can also use a pheromone plug-in, like Feliway, to help your cat feel more secure and to reduce stress.
If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, then pacing can be a sign that they’re ready to find a mate. If you’ve shut your female cat away for the duration of her heat cycle, she may start pacing in frustration that she can’t go outside. The same goes for unneutered male tomcats!
- What to do about it: If you don’t plan on using your cat as part of a breeding program, then speak to your vet about getting them spayed or neutered. This will prevent unwanted pregnancies, as well as ease the hormones that cause your cat to pace in the first place.
3. Your female cat is pregnant
Female cats often pace as they’re close to giving birth. See if your female cat is pacing but also eyeing up cozy spots in the house. If your female cat is not spayed but allowed outside to roam freely, then it’s highly likely that she could be pregnant. Or maybe you already know that she’s expecting kittens!
- What to do about it: Schedule a veterinary consultation to confirm if your female cat is expecting kittens.
Sometimes pacing and circling can be a sign that your cat has eaten something poisonous. If you also notice any convulsions, weakness, and lethargy, then check your house carefully to see if you can find anything your cat may have eaten. Certain houseplants and garden plants are toxic to cats.
- What to do about it: Speak to your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat ate something toxic.
An overactive thyroid can lead to an increase in your cat’s metabolism. Your cat may be pacing, restless, and eating more than usual.
- What to do about it: Schedule an appointment so your veterinarian can run blood tests.
If your cat is in pain, they won’t feel relaxed enough to rest. Pacing can be a sign of pain in cats.
- What to do about it: Check to see if your cat has any obvious wounds, but to be on the safe side, make an appointment with your vet, as they may want to check for internal injuries as well.
If you used to let your cat outside at night but have started keeping them inside, they might simply be bored. Indoor cats can also get bored at night time. Cats are more active at dawn and dusk, so if your cat is pacing at those times, it might simply be that they’re ready for playtime.
- What to do about it: Make sure your cat has toys to play with or a food puzzle, or do sleep training to shift your cat’s schedule slightly.
8. Feline dementia
If your older cat has started pacing, it may be a sign that they’re developing dementia. In this case, pacing is often combined with your cat sitting and staring off into space, increased meowing, spending less time grooming, and seeking you out in an agitated manner.
- What to do about it: If you think your elderly cat’s pacing is a sign of dementia, speak to your veterinarian to find out what you can do to keep your cat comfortable. Drug therapies are available to consider.
Wrapping it up
There’s no one-size-fits-all remedy for pacing in cats, but it’s important to figure out why your cat is pacing, and then you can figure out how to help them.
Pacing can be a sign of a serious medical condition or that your cat has been poisoned, so we’d always recommend seeking veterinary assistance.
You may be able to solve your cat’s pacing simply by having them spayed or providing more enrichment for those early morning hours when they’re just bored!
Featured image credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.